Reports landlords are offering free or low-cost accommodation in exchange for sex highlight how desperate the housing crisis has become, according to the Labour housing spokesperson.
The Irish Examiner has uncovered a series of online ads offering rental properties in return for sexual favours in Dublin and Limerick.
The paper notes that one of the ads in Limerick was aimed at a single lady “with a twist” and offered “reduced rent for occasional fun”.
Another ad in Dublin was offered in return for a ‘friends with benefits’ arrangement.
On Lunchtime Live this afternoon, Labour housing spokesperson Rebecca Moynihan said people should report the ads to Gardaí when they see them.
“First of all, this shows how desperate the housing situation for many people is that predators essentially could use this to be able to entice to have sex with them,” she said.
“We need to be clear about this. These are predators and this is sexual abuse.
“People are in such a vulnerable situation with the housing crisis that they might feel forced into it and predators, such as the men who post these ads, feel they can exploit vulnerable people because of that and get away with it because they are offering them a home and shelter etc.”
She said the people posting the ads are “clear predators” who are targeting vulnerable women they know are in precarious housing situations.
Also on the show, the Executive Director of the Galway Rape Crisis Centre Cathy Connolly said people have reported the practice to the centre before.
“It is a power thing really,” she said. “Most landlords are in a position where they are maybe well set up.
“It is going back again to the have and have nots and people are abusing a situation where they are in a position of strength. That they can offer to people that are vulnerable this option to come in at a reduced rent and have sex with them.
“It is very unbalanced; it is very unfair and it is taking advantage of a situation where rents are so expensive that many people are in danger of losing the roof over their head. It is as serious as that and people are in a very compromised situation.”
Threshold CEO John-Mark McCafferty also encouraged people to report the practice to Gardaí.
“Many tenants and people trying to access private rented housing are increasingly vulnerable and that is an indictment of our housing system and our society that this group of renters be at risk of such predatory behaviour,” he said.
“We are advising tenants or potential tenants to report such incidents to Gardaí. It is just abhorrent that any landlord or owner-occupier would take advantage of somebody in this way.
“This is somebody looking for a home and often desperately looking for a rented home or a room to rent. So, we advise people who encounter this to report to Gardaí.”