Home Office issues call for evidence on sex for rent in the UK
Government is considering new law targeting predatory landlords
The Home Office issued a public call for evidence on 21 April on the scale of ‘sex for rent’ in the UK and whether existing laws adequately protect victims. The call for evidence is part of the government’s response to concerns that predatory landlords are exploiting vulnerable people for sex in return for free or discount rent.
A ‘sex for rent’ arrangement is already illegal under the Sexual Offences Act and landlords can already be prosecuted for attempting to engage in sex for rent, but the government is said to be considering a possible new law to combat the problem and is keen to understand, through the new call for evidence, the scale and nature of the ‘sex for rent’ exchange. The call for evidence, which is open for feedback from all interested stakeholders until 30 June, specifically seeks information on where and how exploitation is taking place and how to strengthen the response to it, including whether there is a case for a bespoke criminal offence.
The government’s press release cites data from YouGov, carried out on behalf of housing charity Shelter, that nearly one in 50 women in England have been propositioned for ‘sex for rent’ in the last five years. In addition to this, a ‘sex for rent’ case study is provided by the National Ugly Mugs charity, which works to end all violence towards sex workers, that details the lived experience of a woman who was being sexually exploited by her landlord.
Home Secretary, Suella 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. 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.”