NewsCrime Desk

Sleazy landlords take advantage of housing crisis by offering rent-free rooms in exchange for sex

Crime DeskBy Denise Smith
Our reporter meets slimey landlord 'Vincent'
Our reporter meets slimey landlord 'Vincent'

IT is a problem that has devastated thousands of Irish families, but for one group of lowlife landlords the housing crisis is being exploited for sexual gain.

The Sunday World can reveal that there are currently dozens of ads – mostly on adult contact websites – offering rent-free accommodation to young women in exchange for sex.

Today, Ruhama – a group which supports sex workers – has blasted the sleazy landlords who try and “leverage sex” from vulnerable women looking for a home.

Soaring rents and a chronic lack of housing properties have placed huge pressure on young people, especially those who are looking for accommodation in the city centre.

With rising costs forcing families from their homes, many have been forced to move in to hotels and B&Bs because they could not afford to pay skyrocketing rents.

But with the pressure for housing mounting, sleazy householders are now hoping to exploit vulnerable women and the homelessness epidemic with offers of rent-free rooms.

In one ad placed last week, a Dublin man who describes himself as a young professional is advertising a “bedroom available in Dublin for NOTHING”. 

“Looking for female in her twenties or early thirties to share apartment with male in early thirties. Your own double room en suite in large apartment in South Dublin totally free.

“I am a professional, am clean, respectful and a lot of fun. Seeking a genuine girl who’s single and nice looking. Looking to hang out together firstly with a view towards a sexual relationship together afterwards.”

When we contacted the man for further details he replied: “Thanks for the reply. Well the blunt answer is I want a sexual relationship out of it!

“I want to chat to someone on here first for a bit, get to know each other, meet a couple of times, and if we like each other she moves in. Intention is everyone is comfortable.

“I work in finance in town. I can assure you the room is 100 per cent real and this is 100 per cent genuine.”

Posting an ad on a popular advertising site, another man hoping to exchange a free room for sex wrote: “Seeking a genuine girl who’s single and decent looking – you do not have to be a total stunner!”

While another pervy poster leaves nothing to the imagination: “I have an apartment in South Dublin I am willing to let to a girl 18+ for a 6 month period free of charge in exchange for a weekly 2 hour visit. Replys with pic will get preference.”

While the number of sex-for-rent ads have increased massively over the last six months, the Sunday World can reveal that it is not a new phenomenon.

Last November, our undercover reporter met a  man who was offering discounted accommodation in exchange for a sexual relationship.

Leaving nothing to the imagination, his ad read: “I have a double room available to rent cheaply in return for sex.

Our reporter meets slimey landlord 'Vincent'

“I did this a few months ago with an Italian lad who wanted a room for a month. Worked out well for both of us. Ha ha.”

We met the man at the plush apartment after agreeing to a viewing. The ground-floor apartment was decorated and furnished to the highest standard.

“I charged €700 for the room to a previous lodger,” he told our reporter. “But with our arrangement it’ll be €250.”

Following publication, it is believed the landlord claimed that the ad was a fantasy and he did not intend to go through with the transaction.

In 2014, we also met ‘Vincent’ who was looking for a woman – described by him as “the younger the better” – to move into his apartment in Dublin’s north-inner city as soon as possible.

But while he was offering his accommodation rent-free, the Italian-born man was looking to be paid in kind with regular sex sessions.

Vincent, who claimed to be 48, 49 and 50 years old, during our brief dealings with him, said he expected the successful applicant to sleep with him regularly.

Ruhama, an outreach support organisation for victims of prostitution and sexual exploitation has slammed those who are capitalising on the rent crisis.

Chief executive Sarah Benson said: “We would be really concerned for young women who might respond to those ads. We would envisage that there would be a very significant risk that they would find themselves in a potentially dangerous, potentially abusive situation.

 “Vulnerable women often find themselves trading things other than money in exchange for sex and those who would seek to leverage sex from somebody in those circumstances we would accept that as very exploitative.

“In terms of Ruhama’s experience, while this might be a relatively new way of exploiting women, we have often worked with women who found themselves having to negotiate to exchange sex for a roof over their head.

“So if you have women who are vulnerable and have been either homeless or at risk of homelessness, this just seems to be another cynical attempt by a cohort of guys who are trying to commodify women’s bodies.

“Your home is supposed to be a safe space, it’s supposed to be a place where your bodily integrity is respected and protected.

“If someone is leveraging sexual access to you in order for your continued permission to stay, that can only create a really negative dynamic,” she added.

“On the flip side, this may just be another example of absolute opportunism on the part of some guys who don’t have all that much respect for women.

“It’s just another way to access them without having to negotiate a sexual relationship.”