I’ve been working with some of the BBC’s brilliant investigative journalists who have uncovered a sinister and exploitative use of room rental websites.
Some people have been advertising free accommodation in return for sex. In a city like ours with two universities and a housing crisis we have to react swiftly to this because there is no doubt in my mind that vulnerable people will be put at terrible risk by this.
Advances in technology, apps, and web-based tools gives us all new freedoms and opportunities which is great, but it can also create grey areas where the law hasn’t caught up. For example, in this case it’s not my belief that people exploiting others for sex in return for accommodation would fall foul of existing solicitation laws.
So my message is clear: the web platforms profiting from room letting activity must crack down on exploitation and clean up their sites. If not legislators like me will have to do it for them by passing new laws. Either way, we must make sure that new and exciting opportunities created by advances in web technology don’t lead to the vulnerable being exploited.