Government to Crack Down on Predatory 'Sex for Rent' Landlords
The Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, has announced a potential new law to crack down on predatory landlords who exploit vulnerable people for sex in return for free or discounted rent. The government seeks views from victims, police, and charities through a call for evidence launched on 21 April 2023. This will allow them to better understand the scale and nature of the horrendous '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. While this is already illegal under the Sexual Offences Act, the call for evidence aims to determine if these laws go far enough or if new measures are required to protect vulnerable people from harm better.
According to research by YouGov on behalf of housing charity Shelter, nearly 1 in 50 women in England have been propositioned for 'sex for rent' in the last five years. The call for evidence, lasting for ten weeks, seeks to gain the views of those directly engaged in a 'sex for rent' arrangement, whether deceived, coerced, or compelled.
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 Online Safety Bill will require social media platforms to proactively tackle illegal content, such as using their sites to coerce and control women for sex. Failure to do so will result in fines of up to billions of pounds. Additionally, the Home Office is working closely with Women’s Aid to provide £300,000 for one-off payments of up to £500 to victims of domestic abuse.
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."
Tackling sexual exploitation and violence against women and girls is a government priority. The call for evidence is crucial in ensuring everyone, especially the most vulnerable, has access to a safe and secure home free from harassment and exploitation.
The call for evidence can be accessed here and closes at 11:59 pm on 30 June 2023.
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The landlord and contract-holder should agree on the initial rent. When considering the rent to charge, a landlord should consider what repairs and other outgoings are likely to ensure sufficient income. This needs to be balanced with current market conditions.