Advertising or seeking ‘sex for rent’ would be made illegal under new legislation put forward by Sinn Féin today.
Publishing the legislation this morning, the party’s housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin described the practice as a “disgusting predatory form of behaviour” that should be outlawed.
He said he aims to introduce the bill when the Dáil returns in September.
"Given the fact there is no explicit prohibition on landlords either seeking sex in lieu of rent or advertising such arrangements I think this should become a criminal offence,” Deputy Ó Broin told Newstalk.
He said he is hopeful the Government backs his legislation “to ensure this appalling practice is outlawed as a matter of urgency”.
It comes almost two years after the sex-for-rent scandal was first exposed – and days after RTÉ Investigates broadcast an undercover report showing that the practice is still happening.
A bill to address the issue collapsed at Oireachtas committee stage last year due to difficulties around its wording and some of the penalties.
"Preying on the desperate and vulnerable"
“In an environment of rising rents, limited rental supply and an escalating homeless crisis, some landlords are preying on desperate and vulnerable prospective tenants seeking sex in lieu of rent,” said Deputy Ó Broin.
“It is unacceptable that vulnerable tenants would be exposed to this kind of abhorrent behaviour.
“It is unacceptable that vulnerable tenants would be exposed to this kind of abhorrent behaviour. It is also unacceptable that almost two years since the issue was first brought to public attention and a full year after legislation passed in the Dáil, that Government has failed to act.
“Renters need the full protection of the law and seeking or advertising sex for rent must be an offence in legislation carrying significant punishment.”
Rape Crisis Centre CEO Noeline Blackwell told Newstalk the proposed legislation is a welcome move to protect renters from exploitation.
“Something is needed to fill what seems to be a gap in the system whereby somebody who is really vulnerable is exploited in order to get the most basic of things – shelter,” she said.
The bill would make seeking or advertising sex-for-rent arrangements illegal under the Residential Tenancies Act.