Generation Rent has returned to the threat of rent-for-sex as it claims 200,000 female tenants could be offered discounted rent in return for sexual favours.
A survey by Generation Rent and Mumsnet says four per cent of private renters who responded to their survey reported that they had been offered discounted or free rent by a landlord or letting agent. The survey received a total of 1,045 responses.
One respondent said: “I was a young girl of 17 with a baby renting to get away from an abusive family at the time when I was approached by one of the two landlords who owned the property I was staying at. He intimidated me continuously, making me feel extremely ugly, horrible, that I was a cheap girl that needed him and his help. When I turned him down, he got so nasty.”
The two organisations claims that as well as explicit ‘Sex for Rent’ propositions, respondents also reported that more general predatory behaviour was often displayed by landlords and letting agents during periods of economic instability.
Another respondent said: “Both times the landlord has used my poverty (being a student then being a young person fleeing abuse) to ask for sex/make lewd comments, knowing I depend on a reference from him to move elsewhere.”
‘Sex for Rent’ was affirmed as a sexual offence in 2017 by the Ministry of Justice. However, only one person has ever been convicted in a ‘Sex for Rent’ case.
In February this year the government committed to launching a public consultation in the summer of 2022 which will investigate the need for a dedicated ‘Sex for Rent’ law, but no consultation has yet taken place.
Baroness Alicia Kennedy, director of Generation Rent, says: “Too many private renters, especially the most vulnerable private renters, continue to be exploited and abused by predators who have no place in the private rented sector.
"That's why it’s so disappointing the promised public consultation did not take place this summer. Finally, now the Online Safety Bill is back in the Commons, the government must make sure it makes the legislative change to tackle this issue online. It would be devastating if these commitments are not honoured.
“As the cost-of-living crisis continues, low-income private renters are only being put into more desperate and vulnerable situations.”
“It is urgent that the Government acts to bring in a dedicated ‘Sex for Rent’ law, legislated so that platforms can no longer host this content. It should also support private renters by raising Local Housing Allowance to median rents, removing the benefit cap, and increasing local authorities’ funding so that they can distribute Discretionary Housing Payments to struggling private renters.”
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