Wales politics

Call for Welsh ban on sex-for-rent adverts

Man on doorstep Image copyright Getty Images/Manuel-F-O

Advertisements for properties offered in return for sexual favours should be banned in Wales, an AM has said.

Concern has been raised across the UK about the practice of so-called "sex-for-rent".

Now Dawn Bowden claims examples of the practice have now been seen in Wales.

Carl Sargeant, Welsh Government Communities Secretary, called the practice abhorrent and said he would raise the issue with the Home Office.

A recent BBC investigation in England found that young, vulnerable people were being targeted with online classified adverts offering accommodation in exchange for sex.

Justice secretary Liz Truss has already pledged that the UK government will review the matter.

Image caption Dawn Bowden said one advert for properties in south Wales asked for replies to come with a picture

Ms Bowden told AMs on Wednesday of one advert for "Tenants with benefits" in Cardiff and the south Wales valleys that stated: "Must reply with a picture."

An advert for a room in Bridgend, she explained, asked for someone with a "Naturist lifestyle".

Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney Labour AM Ms Bowden said the advert stated: "Will want to meet and get to know and discuss the ground rules for services required."

She said: "Whilst this practice may not be illegal, it is inherently immoral and is deliberately targeting desperate women, and sometimes men, who feel they have no other options than to give into this exploitation."

Welsh housing charity Shelter Cymru said that although it had not seen explicit sex-for-rent arrangements, it had seen cases of private landlords demanding sexual favours from their tenants.

Jennie Bibbings, campaigns manager at Shelter Cymru, said: "This is a problem that has its roots in the power imbalance between landlord and tenant, as well as the housing supply crisis which means that tenants simply don't have enough choice of affordable accommodation."

Image caption Carl Sargeant said sex-for-rent was a symptom of young people struggling to get accomodation

Ms Bowden's call for an amendment to the Housing Act (Wales) 2014 - which regulates landlords in Wales - was backed by opposition groups in an assembly debate on Wednesday,

Welsh Conservative AM David Melding said he was in "great sympathy" with the proposal, calling the practice "morally repugnant".

Plaid AM Sian Gwenllian argued that part of the solution was to provide more affordable housing, saying fewer people would be forced into such situations as a result.

UKIP's Gareth Bennett called some of the adverts he had seen an "eye-opener".

The Communities Secretary with responsibility for housing, Carl Sargeant, said sex-for-rent was a "symptom of a more fundamental problem" of young people struggling to get accommodation.

But he said the measure that Ms Bowden called for "will simply not tackle this issue on its own".

A Welsh Government spokesman said: "We condemn this abhorrent practice which takes advantage of the poverty and social inequality of the people it preys on.

"We will do everything in our power to tackle this issue but amending the Housing (Wales) Act 2014 does not offer the solution."

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