The Residential Tenancy Bureau (RTB) must add questions on the issue of sex for rent to its annual rental sector survey to ascertain the true extent of the problem, a Fine Gael Senator has said.
Senator Tim Lombard said urgent action must be taken to get a clearer understanding of the prevalence of sex for rent in Ireland following the shocking revelations on the RTE Investigates programme on July 27th.
“There is clearly a specific part of society where sex for rent has become a recognised part of looking for rental accommodation and that is completely unacceptable; vulnerable tenants are being targeted,” he stated.
Senator Lombard suggested the introduction of survey questions similiar to those used in the ‘Sex-for-rent’ Government Call for Evidence that took place in the UK between April and June of this year, where tenants were able to report their experiences.
The evidence gathered will be used to consider if their current laws go far enough or if new legislation is needed to protect vulnerable tenants.
Senator Lombard continued: “The RTB introducing questions on the prevalence of sex for rent in Ireland into its annual survey may also help remove stigma surrounding reporting sex for rent propositions, as the UK survey allowed for victims to report their experiences without having to disclose their identities.
“In 2021, it was deemed that the RTB annual survey was not an appropriate way to gather this sensitive information as their survey is conducted face to face, so the inclusion of an online survey would help address this issue.
“Action must be taken to clamp down on predatory landlords and by gathering more evidence on the issue, better solutions can be found to address this problem. The Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage needs to examine and find an appropriate way that the RTB can conduct this research.
“Existing laws in respect of this are currently under review in the Department of Justice and evidence-based information should be used to ensure that appropriate legislation is brought forward to deal with this despicable practice.”