Limerick homeless agency slams ‘sex for rent’ offer

limerick post news novas ireland shleter homelessness
Una Burns, Head of Policy and Communication with Novas

by Bernie English

A SPOKESPERSON for a Limerick homeless support organisation has described as “despicable” a County Limerick landlord who is advertising reduced rent in exchange for sex.

The advertisement was for a shared house in Newcastle West, with the landlord offering a room for a single lady “with a twist”.

“Can do reduced rent for occasional fun,” the advertisement added.

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A prospective female tenant who contacted the landlord had it made clear to her that sexual activity was required on a weekly basis in return for rent of €200 for the first month and €250 per month thereafter.

Una Burns of Limerick homeless agency, Novas, described the landlord as “despicable”.

“That someone would exploit people who are so vulnerable that they would even consider such an offer at the worst time in their lives is beyond belief.”

Ms Burns told the Limerick Post that women are especially vulnerable when they become homeless.

“They may be fleeing domestic violence or abuse. A European study has established that women are slower to access hostels or other forms of homeless accommodation. They are the hidden homeless.

“This is an extraordinary situation. There are many people out there desperate for accommodation. If it wasn’t so serious, it would seem like a bad joke.”

Ms Burns advised anyone facing homelessness to “get in contact with the organisations that are there to offer help and support and safe accommodation.”

The distasteful offer came to light in an investigation by the Irish Examiner, which uncovered online ads offering properties in return for sexual favours in Limerick and Dublin.

Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien has condemned the ads and urged targeted tenants to report the matter to the gardaí.

Green Party TD Steven Matthews, who chairs the Oireachtas committee on housing, said nobody should have to offer sex for accommodation.

“This is something I will be raising with the committee when we return after Christmas,” he added.

He described the offering of such arrangements as “reprehensible behaviour. No landlord in this country should be able to attach a condition like that in terms of a tenancy.”

He said such propositions are “morally corrupt” and “disgusting”.

“This is something we have to lift the lid on, and weed out this immoral behaviour. The Oireachtas committee and the Residential Tenancies Board should establish what rights or protections there are for tenants in such circumstances.

According to the latest Residential Tenancies Board figures, rents across the country grew at their highest rate since 2017 in the third quarter of this year.

The average monthly rent in Limerick now stands at €1,110.39.