Probe into sex for rent ads in Scotland to be launched

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

Scotland’s Housing Minister Kevin Stewart will probe the sex for rent scandal, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced.

Websites in Scotland have been carrying advertisements appearing to be offering free or reduced rent in return for sexual favours.

Scottish Labour MSP Claire Baker raised the issue at FMQs.

She said: “We know sex for rent adverts have been posted online for properties in Scotland, but we have no way of knowing how many tenants are currently in such arrangements.

“The practice opens the door to vulnerable tenants, who are often facing homelessness and poverty and who find themselves in commercially exploitative arrangements.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon moved to reassure Ms Baker action was being taken.

She said: “I was extremely concerned – horrified, actually – to read the reports that the member refers to.

“As a Government, we are already taking action to tackle such issues through the implementation of equally safe, which is our strategy to tackle any violence against women and girls.

“We are also taking action to improve the availability of and access to housing for everyone, and action to tackle the poverty and inequality that can so often render people vulnerable to being exploited in such a way.

“Let me assure the member we will look carefully at what action we can take, further to what we are already doing, across all those areas.

“The Minister will be very happy to meet the member to discuss that in more detail, if that would be of interest to her.”

Mr Stewart has already written to the boss of one website accused of allowing potential sexual exploitation.

He said he wanted to underline his concern and ask what steps the site will take to ensure people are protected from exploitation.