Cost-of-living crisis threatens to force more private renters into dangerous ‘Sex for Rent’ arrangements
Around 200,000 female private renters could be offered discounted rent in exchange for sexual acts at some point in their lives, a recent survey conducted by Generation Rent and Mumsnet has revealed.
A survey by Generation Rent and Mumsnet highlights the prevalence of ‘Sex for Rent’ arrangements in the UK, with estimates showing that around 200,000 female private renters could have been offered free or discounted rent in exchange for sexual favours.
4% of private renters who responded to the survey reported that they had been offered discounted or free rent by a landlord or letting agent. The survey received a total of 1045 responses.
Shockingly, this figure rose to 1 in 10 respondents with incomes of less than £20,000.
Testimonies from the survey reveal that vulnerable women (especially financially vulnerable women) are most at risk of being targeted by predators for ‘Sex for Rent’.
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.”
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.”
The cost-of-living crisis is severely impacting households up and down the country. In August 2022, ONS figures revealed that around 9 in 10 (89%) adults in Great Britain continued to report that their cost of living had increased. Meanwhile, Shelter reported in September 2022 that almost 2.5 million renters were either behind or constantly struggling to pay their rent – an increase of 45% since April 2022. As renters increasingly struggle to pay the rent, there is a real risk that more with be propositioned by and forced into ‘Sex for Rent’ arrangements.
‘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. On 28 February 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, yet no consultation has taken place.
On February 28 the Government also confirmed that the hosting of ‘Sex for Rent’ ads would be banned in the forthcoming Online Safety Bill, which returns to the House of Commons on Monday 5th December.
Alicia Kennedy, Director of Generation Rent, said:
“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.”
Justine Roberts, Mumsnet founder and CEO, said:
“This research paints a deeply disturbing picture of the prevalence of ‘Sex for Rent’, with vulnerable women particularly at risk from predatory behaviour. And the cost-of-living crisis threatens to make the problem even worse.
“The law, as it stands, is clearly failing to protect women. The new Government must take urgent action to ensure that it does.”
National Association of Property Buyers: Impact of mini-Budget not yet reflected in official data
HOUSE prices are set to fall “further and faster” between now and the Spring, a leading property expert has predicted.
Data released this week revealed prices dropped by 1.4% in November compared to those paid in October. That equates to around £5,000 off the value of the average UK property.
Jonathan Rolande, from the National Association of Property Buyers, said the data points towards the fact “worse is to come” because the impact of the botched mini-Budget had yet to be reflected in official statistics.
He said: “The newly released data only measures November completions, so will be largely unaffected by the fallout from the botched mini Budget.
“It is likely that in the coming months we shall see the true impact this had on the market. I suspect that prices are likely to drop further and faster between now and the Spring.
“Optimists are hoping for a Spring bounce and are hoping that lower cost mortgage deals hit the market, and that the seasonal change entices more buyers to start their search for a new home.
“But it is too early to say whether this will be the case, and much rides on how the Government manages to navigate the cost of living crisis.
“One thing is for certain, anyone suggesting a house price crash would be a good thing should be very careful what they wish for.
“This would likely crash the economy – at a time where things are already perilous.
“And people should remember that even if house prices fell by double digit amounts this would still only put us back to where we were pre-pandemic, where many areas had over-inflated prices as it was.”
It was reported last week that UK house prices saw their biggest monthly fall for more than two years in November as rising interest rates put off buyers.
The Nationwide bank said prices fell 1.4% from October, which was the largest month-on-month fall since June 2020.
Annual house price growth saw a “sharp slowdown”, the building society said, falling to 4.4% from 7.2% in October.
The lender added the housing market looked set to “remain subdued” in the coming months.
Earlier this month, the government’s official forecaster predicted that house prices will fall by 9% over the next two years as affordability issues weigh on demand.
The average property price fell to £263,788 last month from £268,282 in October, the Nationwide said.
It said the housing sector was still being affected by the fallout from September’s mini-budget, which triggered a rise in mortgage rates and also led lenders to suspend hundreds of mortgage products amid turmoil on the financial markets
Proptech and Property News in association with Estate Agent Networking.
Andrew Stanton is the founder of Proptech-PR, a consultancy for Founders of Proptechs looking to grow and exit, using his influence from decades of industry experience. Separately he is a consultant to some of the biggest names in global real estate, advising on sales and acquisitions, market positioning, and operations. He is also the founder of Proptech-X Proptech & Property News, where his insights, connections and detailed analysis and commentary on proptech and real estate are second to none.