Tuesday 22 October 2019

Predatory landlords demand 'sex for rent' from vulnerable women, Dáil is told

Scandal: Ruth Coppinger revealed a shocking text exchange between one tenant and her landlord. Picture: Collins
Scandal: Ruth Coppinger revealed a shocking text exchange between one tenant and her landlord. Picture: Collins
John Downing

John Downing

Rogue landlords are offering "sex for rent" deals to their vulnerable tenants, the Dáil has been told.

Solidarity TD Ruth Coppinger highlighted the case of a young woman in Dublin, who was offered rent-free accommodation by her landlord "if we agree something", the Dublin West TD said.

Ms Coppinger urged the Government to deal with landlords who use such tactics, 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 to TDs sounded "disgusting and a horrible thing for someone to have to go through".

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

Outlining the allegations to the Dáil, Ms Coppinger said the woman had been renting a "bedsit in all but name" in the Rathmines area.

She pointed out that bedsits were now illegal under housing reforms.

The Solidarity TD said that in text messages between the woman and her landlord, she explained that she would be leaving because the rent was too high.

"Are you coming to live with me in my house?" the landlord allegedly replied. The woman tenant then asked: "Are you being serious?"

The landlord 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 proposition and the landlord texted again.

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

Ms Coppinger said the Government had allowed young women in very vulnerable situations to be put under undue pressure. "Because the landlords rule in this Dáil and you've done nothing about it," she said.

She added that luckily the tenant in the case had been able to move out.

The Shelter housing charity in England has estimated that 250,000 women have been offered free or reduced rent in exchange for sex.

Mr Murphy said the situation was a matter for criminal investigation. "I hope it is being addressed in that way," he said.

He told TDs he would speak to Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan on the issue.

The minister added that the Government had introduced the biggest reforms since rental controls in order to improve tenants' security.

Irish Independent

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