Propertymark calls for elimination of abhorrent 'sex for rent'

Responding to the Home Office's call for evidence on the exchange of sexual relations for accommodation, Propertymark vehemently outlined every effort must be made to eliminate this practice completely.

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The call for evidence specifically sought the views of those that have been directly engaged in a sex for rent arrangement, whether they engaged in it in an informed and consensual way or whether they were deceived, coerced, or compelled into it. 

The minority to be prosecuted

The overwhelming majority of providers of privately rented accommodation are good landlords who supply high-quality accommodation at a fair rent. However, there is a very small number who engage in this practice, and we called for this minority to be dealt with under both the Sexual Offences Act, through criminal proceedings and banned for life from providing accommodation in the private rented sector (PRS).

We also stated that any landlords who do engage in sex for rent are likely to engage in other criminal acts such as prostitution, human trafficking, and drugs. They are also extremely unlikely to provide the high standards expected of landlords within the PRS such as compiling with legislation and health and safety requirements.

Targeting the vulnerable 

Alarmingly, a survey from Shelter England found that 250,000 women in the UK had been offered free or reduced rent for sexual favours over a five-year period. Criminals who engage in this activity are likely to pick on those most marginalised and vulnerable in society including sex workers, the low waged and people from overseas or at high risk of homelessness. The majority of these are women and may have additional vulnerability such as drug and alcohol dependency.

Measures to stop it

Propertymark is calling for several measures that will end the practice of sex for rent including:

  • Giving local authorities sufficient resources to ensure standards are high across the board in the PRS
  • A referral route for local authorities to report suspected cases to the police and relevant authorities
  • Tackle online platforms that advertise these arrangements and give them the same requirements to meet as online property platforms
  • More support for those impacted to help them come forward
  • The police and other authorities share information with letting agents and landlords on spotting the signs and how to report it
Download the full consultation response