THE Attorney General has been asked to advise if ‘sex for rent’ advertisements are covered by existing legislation.
The move follows an investigation by thewhich highlighted that properties, including a house in County Limerick, was being offered at reduced rent or rent-free in exchange for sex.
A spokesman for the Department of Housing confirmed that Minister Darragh O’Brien had written to the Attorney General, Paul Gallagher, seeking advice on whether the practice is covered by the Sexual Offences Act 2017.
The spokesman said the minister is also in contact with Minister for Justice Helen McEntee on the issue.
He said the Attorney General’s office had acknowledged Mr O’Brien’s correspondence and that advice is now being awaited from Mr Gallagher.
One of the properties highlighted in the Irish Examiner investigation was a house in Newcastle West which would be shared with the landlord.
He advertised a room in his house for a single lady ‘with a twist’. The ad said: ‘Can do reduced rent for occasional fun’.
When contacted by a prospective tenant, the landlord made it clear that sexual activity was required on a weekly basis in return for rent of €200 for the first month and €250 per month thereafter.
When asked if the room was available without sexual favours, he said it was preferable to rent it out to someone willing to engage in sexual activity.
He also promised the accommodation would be free if the prospective tenant became his partner in the future.
The issue is expected to be raised at the Oireachtas Committee on housing, local government and heritage in the coming weeks.
Recent research by UK housing and homeless charity Shelter suggested that 30,000 women in the UK were propositioned with sex for rent arrangements between March 2020 and January 2021.
There has been no survey of the area carried out in Ireland.