Home Secretary Suella Braverman is planning a crackdown on odious landlords who ask for sexual favours in exchange for rent and is examining how bad the ‘sex for rent’ situation is and whether enough is being done to protect victims.
A new law would put the squeeze on predatory landlords exploiting vulnerable people for sex in return for free or discounted rent.
The government is seeking views of victims, police and charities as part of a call for evidence to better understand the scale and nature of the abhorrent ‘sex for rent’ exchange in the UK.
‘Sex for rent’ is an arrangement where landlords exchange accommodation for free or at a discount in return for sexual relations with their tenants.
This is already illegal under the Sexual Offences Act and landlords can already be prosecuted for attempting to engage in sex for rent.
Braverman wants to know whether these laws go far enough, or if new measures are needed to tackle the issue and better protect vulnerable people from harm.
She says: “It’s wholly unacceptable that vulnerable people, and particularly young women, are being exploited in ‘sex for rent’ arrangements. This is an abuse of power which puts people in desperate situations and has no place in our country.”
CALL FOR EVIDENCE
The call for evidence, which will last for 10 weeks, seeks to gain the views of those who have been directly engaged in a ‘sex for rent’ arrangement, whether they were deceived, coerced, or compelled into it.
Deputy Chief Constable Dan Vajzovic, National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Prostitution and Sex Working, says: “With many struggling to pay rent, they become vulnerable to predatory landlords, and it is vital we put an end to this.
“Violence against women and girls in all its forms is abhorrent.
“Policing is going after the violent and abusive men who commit these crimes.”
Dan Wilson Craw, Deputy Director of Generation Rent, adds: “This call for evidence is vital. Research conducted by Generation Rent and Mumsnet estimates that over 200,000 women could be victims of ‘Sex for Rent’ in the United Kingdom.
“We know the vast majority of landlords abide by the law: seeking permission to enter and respecting their tenants’ privacy.
“However, given the unparalleled access landlords have to tenants’ personal spaces and lives, and the scale of the issue, this consultation is necessary in ensuring that everyone, especially the most vulnerable among us, has access to a safe and secure home, free from harassment and exploitation.”