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Prostitution in Rental Housing in Reykjavík

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Prostitution in Rental Housing in Reykjavík

Reykjavík with Hallgrímskirkja in the background

Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

“We see numerous cases of prostitution being practiced in rental apartments, such as those listed with Airbnb,” stated Detective Snorri Birgisson, from the Reykjavík Metropolitan Police.

In an interview with Fréttablaðið, a landlord described what it is like to discover that his apartment has been used for prostitution. Two women rented his property and then placed an ad on the internet, offering prostitution services. Clients were directed to the apartment, where prostitution took place. Since the women had not broken any law, police could not be called out.

The landlord decided to let the rental agreement run out and to be on the alert regarding prospective renters in the future.

According to Snorri, neighbors and landlords rarely report suspected prostitution to police. He pointed out that those who offer prostitution services are mostly foreign visitors who stay in the country for five to ten days and then continue to other Nordic countries. It’s very hard to reach those individuals, he stated, and they normally don’t want to talk to police or provide any information, since they’re in a very delicate position.

In recent years, Snorri has directed an educational project, managed by the Ministry of the Interior. It’s an initiative meant to increase awareness about prostitution and human trafficking. The program, a cooperative effort of several state institutions, has held 60 meetings, which have been attended by more than 2,000 people.

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