An investigation by CCCU’s student publication has uncovered that up to eighteen Canterbury landlords have offered ‘sex for rent’ schemes to students.
Claisse Opulencia, Editor-in-Chief of Unified, posted an advertisement on Craigslist under the alias of ‘Isabelle’, claiming she was in a need of a room but was struggling financially.
Most landlords initially offered ‘Isabelle’ accommodation with payment, only to suggest ‘sex for rent’ arrangements when ‘Isabelle’ claimed she did not have sufficient funds for their initial offer.
Craigslist is the website where the landlords were advertising for tenants. There are currently few advertisements for properties in Canterbury on the site.
This exposé comes at a time when new, and potentially vulnerable students are arriving in Canterbury for Welcome week.
Opulencia, told Kent Online: “As soon as I posted the ad’ on Craigslist, two hours after, my phone was filled with landlords asking if I was still looking for a room, saying, ‘Here’s what I’ve got’”.
After initial contact with landlords by ‘Isabelle’, further contact was made by Opulencia, as the Editor-in-Chief of Unified. The outlet only received one reply, with the landlord claiming that ‘It’s a win-win situation. I’ll help the person out and she can help me out’.
Such cases have not been isolated to Canterbury. A poll conducted by YouGov and Shelter earlier this year found that around 250,000 women in the UK had been offered a ‘sex for rent’ arrangement by their landlord in the past five years.
Under the Sexual Offences Act 2003, the maximum sentence one could receive for such an office would be 7 years in prison.
The former Justice Secretary, David Lidington, claimed that such arrangements were already illegal under the Sexual Offences Act 2003, arguing that ‘as they are inciting or causing another person to have sex with them in return for payment’.
DCI Lee Whitehead from Kent Police said: ‘Landlords who advertise rooms in exchange for sexual favours are actively targeting vulnerable people, and I would urge anyone who is being exploited in this way to please report it to us.
‘Organisations including Shelter and Citizens Advice provide support for those struggling to find affordable accommodation, including students living away from home who need not put themselves at risk by responding to such adverts.
‘Any incidents reported to Kent Police will be fully investigated to establish if any crimes have been committed, and officers will work with the Crown Prosecution Service to charge offenders and bring them before the courts.’
Despite this, there is no exact law punishing the crime of ‘sex for rent’, with Lidington’s definition falling under the accusation of prostitution.
Consequently, there have been no prosecutions for landlords either advertising or offering ‘sex for rent’ in the UK.