0:04 AM, 24th April 2023, About 10 months ago 17
A consultation that could lead to a new law to crack down on landlords demanding ‘sex for rent’ has been unveiled.
The Home Office is now starting a consultation on its plans – and asking whether current laws are effective enough.
The Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, says the law would bring to justice predatory landlords who are exploiting vulnerable people for sex in return for discounted or free rent.
Now, the government wants to hear from victims of the practice, along with charities and police.
Ms Braverman said: “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.”
She added: “The launch of this public call for evidence brings us closer to ending this deeply harmful trend and better protecting victims.
“And it is another example of how this government will not stop in our efforts to bring more sexual and domestic abusers to justice.”
The offer of ‘sex for rent’ is illegal under the Sexual Offences Act and a landlord can be prosecuted for any attempt to engage in sex for rent.
The Home Office says it wants to understand better the scale of the issue.
Its call for evidence will consider whether the current laws go far enough – or if new legislation is needed to tackle the ‘abhorrent’ issue to protect vulnerable people from harm.
Research from the homeless charity Shelter highlights that nearly 1 in 50 women in England have been propositioned by a landlord in the last five years.
The consultation phase will run for 10 weeks in a bid to hear the views of anyone who has been directly involved in a ‘sex for rent’ arrangement – and where they were compelled, coerced or deceived into it.
Dan Wilson Craw, the deputy director of Generation Rent, said: “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.
“Four per cent of all respondents indicated that they had been offered free or discounted rent in return for sexual favours, with this rising to a shocking 1 in 10 respondents with a household income below £20,000.”
He added: “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.”