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Over 250,000 women have been asked to exchange sex for rent

Posted by
Emily Reynolds
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The problem of sex for rent – where landlords expect their tenants to pay for properties with sex – is impacting even more women than we knew, a new survey says. 

A shocking number of women are being asked to exchange sex for rent, a new poll from housing charity Shelter has found.

Over 250,000 women have had a landlord ask them for sex or sexual favours over the last five years, the poll found. In the last year, 3% of female renters had been offered sex for rent – a number that equals around 139,314 women in the last twelve months alone. 

“My landlord showed up nightly, sitting in my bedroom and refusing to leave,” one woman said. “My landlord made a pass at me while his wife was asleep upstairs,” said another. One woman received a text from a landlord, saying she could “have [the property] for free if I performed an explicit sexual act with him”. 

Others faced “uninvited touching” and “creepy behaviour”, as well as the overstepping of boundaries, The Times report. “My landlord asked me for sex when I could not pay in full rent for one month. The following month I still could not afford full payment and I still refused to make love with him so he threw me out,” they report one woman said.

Stylist.co.uk also found a number of ads currently listed on Craigslist’s London sites offering (or implying) an exchange of sex for rent. One landlord writes that he is “not looking for much of rent but other favours”; another, listed at £75 per month, suggests that “we can have an arrangement that is suitable to us both” and asks applicants to send “a photo or 2” when getting in touch. One ad, from a “forties divorcee of some years”, even points out that the flat’s location has “good transport and easy [access] to Goldsmiths and Kings College”, suggesting the landlord is particularly interested in young women. 

Previous work from journalist Vonny Moyes revealed hundreds of adverts offering free or discounted rent in exchange for sexual favours: “I have a nice room available in London for a girl who enjoys being a dirty little slut,” one advert read.

“Offering a room in my house and free use of shared facilities for woman housemate willing to carry out household chores naked or in sexy lingerie,” said another.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said that sexual harassment by landlords is “yet another situation where men with power are too easily able to abuse women with none”.

“There is a shortage of housing, rents are unaffordable and there are few protections against eviction, so women who rent are often not in a position to take action against the minority of landlords who do cross a line,” she said.

Image: Andras Vas