Sex-for-rent issue could impact around 3,900 Irish households

Sex-for-rent issue could impact around 3,900 Irish households

International comparators provide 'troubling indications' regarding the prevalence of the problem in Ireland, Threshold's Gavin Elliott said. File Picture.

The issue of sex-for-rent could affect nearly 3,900 households in Ireland, a tenant representative body has said.

A Dáil committee has heard that something must be done “urgently” about the issue of sex-for-rent, and that recent reporting on the matter may “only be the tip of the iceberg”.

The Oireachtas committee on justice heard from tenants’ group Threshold that, in lieu of specific research on sex-for-rent in Ireland — the practice of a landlord offering housing or rental discounts in exchange for sexual favours — international comparators provide “troubling indications” regarding the prevalence of the problem.

Threshold’s legal officer Gavin Elliott said that recent research conducted in England during the Covid pandemic indicated that nearly 60,000 women were offered housing in exchange for sex in just 18 months.

By proxy of renter population, Mr Elliott said, that would indicate 3,872 rental households in Ireland may be affected by the issue of sex-for-rent.

The meeting of the committee had been called in order to discuss a bill being brought before the Oireachtas by Social Democrats TD Cian O’Callaghan which would serve to outlaw the practice of sex-for-rent, with a potential criminal sentence of up to seven years in prison.

The hearing had resulted in part from the reporting on sex-for-rent in Ireland by Irish Examiner reporter Ann Murphy, who addressed the committee in person. Ms Murphy has been investigating the issue since December of 2020.

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