Trade Me says it will remove any rental listings which "cross any lines of decency" - including those seeking "services or favours of any nature in place of paying rent".

The online marketplace's head of trust and safety, Jon Duffy, made the comment in response to the Weekend Herald's investigation into online advertisements placed by five men with the North American-based website Craigslist, offering free rent to young women in New Zealand.

The ads involved "sex-for-rent", including where men had offered to share one-bedroom apartments in exchange for "some real fun".

The Labour Party says the revelations are shocking and sickening and show the real human side of the Government's failure to address the country's housing crisis.


Mr Duffy said listings of such a nature were rare on Trade Me.

"In instances where we believe a listing is asking for services or favours of any nature in place of paying rent, our team will investigate and remove those listings if they're found to cross any lines of decency, or may suggest a landlord is attempting to breach the Residential Tenancies Act [requirements to lodge bond].

"We don't have specific policies that address the exchange of services for accommodation, but where we do think a listing crosses the line, we'll consider removing it from the site."

Mr Duffy said Trade Me had dealt with fewer than five such cases during its time in business.

"To put that in context, we currently have almost 5000 listings in our 'flatmates wanted' category."

He added: "From a general perspective, you'd have to be a mug to do something shady or with malicious intent on Trade Me because operating an account means you leave behind a deep trail of electronic footprints.

"If members browsing the site come across listings they think are dodgy or believe cross the boundaries of bad taste, we'd invite them to get in touch with us by using the Community Watch badge found at the bottom of every listing. We have a policing team on deck 24/7/365 to lend a hand."

Labour Party women's affairs spokeswoman Ruth Dyson said she found the revelations in the Weekend Herald's investigation shocking.


"I think this is the real human side of the Government's failure to address the housing crisis in New Zealand," she said.

"I found it really sickening, and then the more I thought about it, the more I thought, 'Wow, this is the country I live in and this is what is happening to it'."

Ms Dyson said the investigation had revealed the true effect the housing situation was having on Kiwis.

"It will be the most vulnerable people. It will be women on their own, it will be students, heaven forbid it might also be older people. I don't want New Zealand to be like that, where people are having to resort to these measures to have a roof over their head."
She said the first step towards a solution would be for the Government to admit there is a housing crisis in New Zealand.

"We have pockets of New Zealand where the purchase and rental of homes is just unaffordable and it is impacting on vulnerable people in a way that cannot be tolerated."