LEESIDE renters have been urged to speak up if they have been propositioned by landlords to give sexual favours in exchange for a reduction in rent.
Cork North Central TD Mick Barry, speaking after a 'sex for rent' story came to light in the Dáil today, said:
"I'm calling on people who have had the experience of being asked for sex in lieu of rent to speak out against this practice."
The Dáil heard how a young woman in Rathmines was offered free rent by her landlord “if we can agree something”.
Solidarity TD Ruth Coppinger read out the exchanges which occurred via WhatsApp between the tenant and her landlord and said “sex is not rent”.
The Dublin West TD has since posted some of the conversation on Twitter, concealing the woman’s identity.
In the messages, when the tenant states she is planning on leaving the property, the landlord replies, “Are you coming to live with me in my house?”.
The tenant then jokes, “Is it for free?” to which the response is, “Free for money yes. But maybe something else?”
When the woman quashed his advances, the landlord persisted, “I’ll make you a better offer. You can stay here for free until Christmas if we can agree something.”
Mr Barry said that the incident highlighted just how much power landlords have.
He said: "The housing crisis has exacerbated the power imbalance between landlords and tenants.
"Some landlords exploit this power imbalance by making outrageous advances of this kind.
"We need a government which tackles high rent evictions, and record homelessness to make tenants less vulnerable."
Mr Barry was one of a trio of Solidarity party members who met with the young woman privately before the party raised the issue.
He expressed great admiration for her bravery in coming forward.
"I'd like to congratulate this young woman.
"She is a whistleblower who has courageously highlighted her own experience to deter other landlords from this practice," he said.
The Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy is expected to consult with Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan to see what could be done about situations like these.