• Sweden's news in English
 
app_header_v3
'Naive' Swedes are renting homes to Airbnb hookers
File photo of a couple in a Swedish apartment. Photo: Sandra Qvist

'Naive' Swedes are renting homes to Airbnb hookers

The Local · 8 Feb 2016, 14:40

Published: 08 Feb 2016 12:24 GMT+01:00
Updated: 08 Feb 2016 14:40 GMT+01:00

Swedish police have spoken out about growing numbers of prostitutes using sublet apartments to charge for sexual services.
 
According to Simon Häggström, head of the Stockholm police unit leading investigations in the capital, prostitutes are active at around 200 addresses on a typical day in the city, with hotels no longer their accommodation of choice.
 
"Second hand apartments are now the largest market for prostitution in Stockholm," he told Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter (DN), which broke the story.
 
The police officer explained that many of the hookers were using properties that had been advertised on sharing economy sites such as Airbnb, with pimps creating fake profiles of respectable couples purporting to be the renters.
 
"People are naive. They should think of some more about who they rent out to second hand," he said.
 
He explained that the police team currently had four members and said that he was pushing for more resources to expand its work in the wake of the rise in Airbnb hookups by sex workers.
 
A press representative for Stockholm police told The Local that no one from the unit was available to expand on the revellations featured in Dagens Nyheter until later in the week.
 
Pye Jakobsson, a spokesperson for Rose Alliance Sweden, which campaigns for the rights of sex workers, said it was "probably" the case that prostitutes had started using Airbnb rentals more frequently.
 
She linked this to the acute housing shortage in Stockholm and a recent local government and police initiative training hotel staff in how to spot prostitutes.
 
"I would say it might be a result of the police's big push to train hotel staff – so that's out as an option. You don't want to work from home as that means risking to lose your apartment and outcalls some feel are riskier than incalls," she told The Local.
 
Sweden has some beautiful apartments, but policea are worried about sex crimes behind closed doors. Photo: Ola Ericson/Image Bank Sweden
 
Airbnb issued a statement on Monday afternoon, arguing that it had a "zero tolerance policy" on sex crimes.
 
"Over 70 million guests have stayed with Airbnb, and problems for the hosts and guests are incredibly rare. If problems arise, we work quickly to take care of our hosts and guests and to permanently shut down users who abuse our platform and community," said the text, which was emailed to The Local.
 
Qasa, a Swedish startup which connects would-be subletters with people seeking to rent out their apartments, also waded into the debate, contacting Swedish media to say it was "concerned" by the image that the coverage was painting of the rental industry.
 
"What we want to do is to increase security around subletting," its chief marketing officer Henrik Hoffman told The Local.
 
Story continues below…
"I use Airbnb when I travel but I can see that there are some potential problems when people are only renting out an apartment for one or two days."
 
He said he wanted to reassure customers using Qasa – which specialises in longer contracts – that the firm was committed to their safety, for example by asking both parties to sign paperwork in advance and keeping a log of their Swedish personal numbers.
 
It is not illegal to sell sexual services in Sweden, but in 1999 the Nordic nation became the first place in the world to criminalise buying sex, in a move designed to punish clients rather than those working in the industry.
 
The law helped halve the number of streetwalkers in Sweden's cities by 2010, but the country is still facing a growing problem of sex sold over the internet and via mobile apps. 
 
Häggström told DN on Monday that many of the prostitutes are young women trafficked to the Nordics from eastern Europe.
 
He said that new sites advertising their services, often servers based abroad, can "pop up like mushrooms and can disappear just as quickly". But he added that his unit had managed to "put out a few" in recent months.

For more news from Sweden, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Today's headlines
Russian 'terror suspect' held at Swedish airport walks free
File photo of Arlanda Airport. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

UPDATED: A 35-year-old man has been released from police custody after being arrested at Arlanda Airport in Stockholm on Friday morning.

Northern Dispatches
'Moving to northern Sweden was the best thing we've done'
Photo: FB

In his farewell column, The Local’s northern Sweden correspondent, Paul Connolly, looks back at his first four years in Sweden.

Bear family just hanging out on Swedish golf course
Not the bear cub in question. But isn't he cute? Photo: AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko

A bear family has been roaming a Swedish golf course, and the best thing of all is that no one cares.

The Local investigates
What do we actually know about the violence in Malmö?
Police investigating an explosion in Malmö on Thursday. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

International media have presented a "distorted" view of a spate of Malmö shootings and an explosion, a senior police boss has told The Local.

The Local List
Reasons why Stockholm Pride is simply awesome
Photo: Annika af Klercker/TT.

Stockholm's Pride festival culminates on Saturday with a parade – and more than a few parties. Here's why we think it's pretty amazing.

Cashless Swedes sitting on old bills worth billions

Old Swedish bank notes worth 1.4 billion kronor are still circulating, according to the country’s central bank, despite them having been declared invalid a month ago.

Homes
In pictures: Why is Nordic design so hot right now?
Scandinavian design. Photo: House of Beatniks

Design agency Studio Esinam investigates together with Houzz.se why the world is falling in love with Nordic style.

Stockholm one of world's best places to live: magazine
Living the dream. Photo: Hasse Holmberg/TT

Stockholm is the tenth best city in the world to live in, reckons this British magazine.

The Local Recipes
How to make Swedish 'Dream' cookies for fika
Now not only in your dreams. Photo: Jurek Holzer/SvD/SCANPIX

Want to fika but think cinnamon buns are too complicated? Try this recipe for a simple but yummy Swedish cookie.

Fears new funding rules could hobble Swedish startups
Elin Olsson funded the development of her innovative smoke detector through crowdfunding. Photo: Anders Andersson/TT

Crowdfunding is a risky business, but could Swedish plans to regulate it make it too hard for small companies to get investment?

Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
Swedish cop makes arrest of the year
Sponsored Article
Five easy ways to travel more often
National
Anyone for a bite of 340-year-old shipwrecked stinky cheese?
Gallery
People-watching: July 27th
Blog updates

26 July

A summer of change; a summer of beauty (The Diplomatic Dispatch) »

"You would have had to try hard to miss the political upheavals in the UK after…" READ »

 

22 July

After the horror, carry on regardless (Globally Local) »

"This time last week, we were just digesting the horror of the Nice killings, in which…" READ »

 
 
 
Sponsored Article
Why you need a EuroBonus American Express Card
Politics
Why Sweden's high taxes are not as high as you think
Sponsored Article
What can newcomers learn about Sweden at Almedalen?
National
What's haggis in a condom doing on Swedish children's TV?
National
Meet the northern Swede who is the world's best mosquito killer
National
Sweden's Hollywood star Alicia Vikander puts her pen in the bottle
Sponsored Article
Gran Canaria: Where Swedes go to work (and play)
Gallery
People-watching: July 22nd-24th
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
The Local Voices
The Jewish Syrian who dreams of rebuilding his country
National
Watch this Swedish weather host leave his fly open... on live TV
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
The Local Voices
'I fled war in Syria. I never expected to be beaten in Sweden'
Sponsored Article
'Sweden's Lauryn Hill' touches the country's musical soul
National
WATCH: Asylum seeker brutally beaten by Swedish bus driver
Technology
Why everyone is talking about Sweden's GTA pride parade
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
National
EU hits truck cartel with record price fixing fine
Sponsored Article
Local guide: the best of Berlin
Society
OPINION: Why Sweden is the most extreme country in the world
The Local Voices
'There is equality in accommodation in Sweden: Everyone is suffering'
Gallery
Property of the week: Gräsö, Östhammar
Gallery
People-watching: July 15th-17th
National
How to make sure you're not caught out by Sweden's old bank notes
Business & Money
Why Sweden has been named the most innovative country in Europe
National
Terror attack: what should you do?
National
French expat on the moment he was assaulted by a Stockholm bouncer
Technology
Gunman? Nah, smartphone Swede
The Local Voices
'If the war in Syria ended today, would you go back?'
The Local Voices
‘I feel like I’m living in a grave!’
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Sweden's Princess Victoria celebrates 39th birthday
Gallery
People-watching: July 13th
National
Swedes discover surprise mountain
The Local Voices
'Even xenophobic Swedes can be polite’
The Local Voices
'The best time to be smuggled to Europe is August 20th, 2015'
The Local Voices
Swedes: Stop obsessing over your material life and start talking to strangers
3,411
jobs available