"Sex for rent is becoming a reality" - TD raises concerns about young women put under pressure by landlords
"You’ve allowed a situation where young women in very vulnerable situations could actually be put under undue stress and pressure because the landlords rule in this Dáil and you’ve done nothing about it."
Solidarity TD Ruth Coppinger has firmly placed a spotlight upon a highly unsettling element of Ireland's housing crisis, alleging that landlords are creating a 'sex for rent' culture in Dublin.
Addressing Taoiseach Leo Varadkar during a meeting in Dáil Éireann on Wednesday afternoon, Coppinger spoke of "young women in very vulnerable situations" who are being pressured by their landlords.
"Taoiseach, so insane has the housing crisis become, and so toothless have your laws on rent rises been, and so much power you have left in the hands of landlords, that we now have a situation where sex for rent is becoming a reality for a lot of tenants," she said.
Coppinger noted that data for such cases in Ireland is unclear, pointing to homelessness and housing charity Shelter in the UK and 250,000 reported cases of women being propositioned by landlords in this manner.
Looking at home, Coppinger shared details of an individual in Dublin in a similar situation.
Solidarity TD @RuthCoppingerTD speaking in the Dáil about a tenant who was asked for sex in return for rent. pic.twitter.com/VQA7hyg9LG
— JOE.ie (@JOEdotie) September 18, 2019
"I’ve had a young woman who was renting a bedsit in all but name in the Rathmines area who was a victim of this and I’d like you to listen to some of the messages that she was sent," she began.
"When she said she had to leave as the rent was too expensive, the landlord said, 'Are you coming to live with me in my house?' She said, 'Are you being serious?' and he replied, 'Yes, I think you’re beautiful. Maybe you can stay there for two months at half money and we could go for dinner and see what happens.'
"When she rejected this, he said, 'I’ll make you a better offer. You can stay for free until Christmas, if we can agree something.'"
Later on Wednesday, Coppinger took to Twitter to share WhatsApp screenshots of the texts in question.
This is the rental sector in 2019 such is the power landlords have. Here are the original messages that I read from in the Dáil.#SexIsNotRent #dubw #metoo pic.twitter.com/zAIdmU6BW9
— Ruth Coppinger (@RuthCoppingerSP) September 18, 2019
During her speech in Dáil Éireann, Coppinger challenged Leo Varadkar to officially compile data on such scenarios and begin to properly address it.
"I seriously think that it’s high time that we collated data in this country," she said.
"Because you’ve allowed a situation where young women in very vulnerable situations - thankfully she was able to move on - could actually be put under undue stress and pressure because the landlords rule in this Dáil and you’ve done nothing about it."