LANDLORDS who offer vulnerable people a roof in exchange for sexual favours should automatically lose their license to operate, Nicola Sturgeon has said.
The First Minister said they would not be a “fit and proper person” to act as a landlord.
The Herald revealed last week how unscrupulous landlords are offering rent-free accommodation in return for sex in deals which are legal despite being exploitative.
The website Craigslist, which allows anyone to advertise almost anything, featured men across Scotland offering flats to women for “favours” and "romance".
Labour MSP Claire Baker asked about the issue at First Minister’s Questions.
She said: “We know that these sex-for-rent adverts have been posted online for properties in Scotland but we have no way of knowing how many tenants are in these arrangements."
Ms Sturgeon said she was concerned and “horrified” by the situation, and said housing minister Kevin Stewart had written to the website asking it to take action.
She said: “Any person always has the right to refuse to consent to sexual activity. Forcing someone - in any way - to participate in sexual activity is a crime. We continue to keep all laws under review to ensure that they are fit for purpose in tackling these unacceptable behaviours.”
She acknowledged it might be hard to tackle the problem as there often a lack of a formal tenancy agreement, which could give the authorities an opening to take action.
Green MSP Patrick Harvie said registered landlords had to meet a fit-and-proper-person test.
He said: “Is it not pretty clear that any such exploitative arrangements should lead to an automatic fail of such a test, and revocation of any existing landlord registration?”
Ms Sturgeon said: “My simple and straightforward answer to that is yes. I struggle to see how anybody who placed an advert of this description would pass the fit-and-proper-person test.“
She added there was a “proper statutory legal process” that councils had to go through before they could strip someone of their landlord status, and she could not pre-empt that.
“However, we are all agreed on the unacceptability of the examples that have been brought to the chamber’s attention, so I undertake to discuss this with the relevant minister, to make sure that the Scottish Government is taking whatever appropriate action we are able to take.”
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