herald

Monday 9 December 2019

'Rogue landlords offering to swap sex for rent', TD tells Dail

Messages a landlord is alleged to have sent a female tenant
Messages a landlord is alleged to have sent a female tenant

People looking for rental accommodation are being propositioned by landlords for sex instead of rent, the Housing Committee has heard.

Solidarity TD Ruth Coppinger called for tighter controls after she told how a young woman in Rathmines, Dublin, was offered free rent by her landlord "if we agree something".

The Dublin West TD urged the Government to deal with these landlords, adding that there was a need for statistics on such incidents to be collected.

Replying for the Government, Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy said the details given sounded "disgusting and a horrible thing for someone to have to go through".

Mr Murphy added that it was a criminal matter and should be reported to gardai.

Solidarity-People Before Profit TD Mick Barry said several people receiving Housing Assistance Payment had contacted Ms Coppinger's office to say some landlords are raising the idea of sexual favours when they go to view houses.

Outlining the allegations to the Dail, Ms Coppinger said the woman was renting a "bedsit in all but name" in the Rathmines area. She pointed out that bedsits are now illegal under housing reforms.

The Solidarity TD gave some details from text messages exchanged between the female tenant and her landlord.

The tenant said she had to leave because the rent was too expensive.

"Are you coming to live with me in my house?" the landlord allegedly replied.

The woman tenant then asked: "Are you being serious?"

Solidarity TD Ruth Coppinger
Solidarity TD Ruth Coppinger

The landlord then replied: "Yes, I think you're beautiful. Maybe you could stay there for two months at half rent and we could go for dinner to 'see what happens'."

The woman rejected this and the landlord then texted in reply.

"I'll make you a better offer. You can stay here for free until Christmas if we can agree something," the landlord allegedly offered.

Ms Coppinger said the case showed that it was "high time we collated data in this country".

She said the Government had allowed a situation where young women in very vulnerable situations could be put under undue pressure.

"Because the landlords rule in this Dail and you've done nothing about it," Ms Coppinger added.

The Dublin West TD said the tenant in the case was thankfully able to move on. She said in England, Shelter estimated that 250,000 women had been propositioned with free or reduced rent in exchange for sex.

Criminal

The minister said the situation was "reprehensible" and a matter for gardai and criminal investigation.

"I hope it is being addressed in that way," Mr Murphy said.

The minister said the Government had earlier introduced the biggest reforms since rental controls had been introduced, to improve tenants' security.

He added that he would speak to Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan to see what could be done about these type of situations.

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