CW// Sexual Offences
Sex for Rent is a crime whereby an individual offers accommodation at a reduced cost or for free, in exchange for sexual acts. This arrangement can be enacted at the outset of a new tenancy, or enforced during a tenancy, often when tenants experience difficulties in paying the rent.
A 2016 Shelter survey found that 8% of women had been offered a Sex for Rent arrangement at some point in their lives. However, only one person has ever been charged in a Sex for Rent Case, and only as recently as January 2021.
One of the reasons why Sex for Rent continues to go on, virtually unchecked, is that landlords are able to
advertise Sex for Rent properties very easily.
The offering of free accommodation for young and/or homeless women continues to go on, with thinly veiled, euphemistic language used in the description of adverts. Terms such as "come to an arrangement", "favour in return" and "open minded" make it clear what the expectations are from these landlords.
Personal circumstance is often used to market a Sex for Rent arrangement. Disturbingly, more recent postings have even made references to the impact of the Covid pandemic on vulnerable people.
More explicit adverts, which forego any euphemistic language, can also be found online. Those that post these adverts are not worried about any repercussions to this predatory and criminal behaviour.
The fact that there has only ever been 1 Sex for Rent prosecution show clearly that the law is not working to protect people from these predators, and is not allowing those who are victims to access justice.
"Helping around the house" and cleaning are also regularly included as expectations in these adverts. Dr Charlotte Proudman, a Barrister at Goldsmith Chambers and an expert in Sex for Rent, has said that many of these cases are akin to modern slavery.
The abuse of vulnerable people, for sexual gratification and as free domestic servants, are closely linked.
Two amendments are set to be debated in the House of Lords in November 2021, which will specifically target Sex for Rent. The amendments would specifically criminalise sex for rent landlords and will implement financial penalties on websites and platforms who host sex for rent advertisements.
These sexual predators are deliberately taking advantage of people’s desperation to find a home. The House of Lords has a huge opportunity to protect some of the country’s most vulnerable renters by specifically taking action against this horrific crime.
No one should be forced by coercion or circumstance to exchange sexual acts for a roof over their head. Parliament must act, to end this abusive and predatory behaviour, so rife within private renting.
Can you support our campaign against Sex for Rent? Sign our petition here.