Online ads offer free rent in exchange for sex

By Yvette Yeon - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - There are numerous complaints against advertisements offering free rent in the Richmond area. They're for women and in most cases the men posting them flat out say they want companionship and sex.

The ads are on craigslist and have gotten the attention of an advocacy group claiming they discriminate on several accounts including gender and race!

The Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia has filed 20 complaints with the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

"Free rent for female must be light skinned, or Spanish for instance or referencing seeking while female, any short of reference like that or straight out propositions, we had some 'free rent in exchange for sex," said Amy Nelson, an investigator for HOME.

Nelson says they're asking HUD to take action.

"With HUD's assistance we can get these discriminatory advertisements to cease and we can also make some of these individuals receive training so that they become informed about fair housing laws so this doesn't continue to happen," said Nelson.

By law, HOME says anyone who advertises for housing -- whether it be for a roommate or a rental property -- cannot include gender, ethnic, age and marital status can't even say "no children" much less ask for sex. Another problem is people don't know what the rules are.

"People see these ads running and don't realize they are unlawful and they then start using them in their own ads thereby perpetuating discrimination by making more ads run," said Nelson.

You at home can help monitor unlawful housing ads too. If you see something inappropriate on craigslist, flag it by clicking the underlined word "prohibited".

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