Craigslist adverts are being posted online offering free rent in return for sexual favours.
Landlords/residents are offering free rooms in exchange for sex and targeting young and vulnerable women.
We carried out an investigation and found dozens of posts online at Craigslist.co.uk offering accommodation, free of charge to young people and quite often ‘students’ in return for an arranged sexual agreement.
We found men across Manchester and Salford advertising ‘free room/rent’ for young women and students who would agree to an arrangement consisting of performing sexual acts on a regular basis.
Some of the men even require the women to sleep in the same bed as them at night.
Most of the posts are suggestively posted by men around the ages for 30-58 seeking girls ages 16-24. Although some of the posts were by women offering their services in exchange for free accommodation, the problem itself is clear.
The BBC themselves carried out an investigation across the UK focusing on London’s landlords and getting face-to-face with some of the men offering their ‘services’ to women who want a free place to stay.
After the BBC documentary ‘Rent for Sex’ aired, it became aware that there is a serious problem in our communities surrounding how people pay their rent and it goes beyond subletting.
The problem is occurring all over the UK from London to Birmingham, Glasgow and Manchester.
These two adverts, specific to Salford/Manchester, are targeting young women/students who are vulnerable. Using persuasive vocabulary to convince users that this is a beneficial and completely safe option is what these men are good at. Could this be putting young women in danger?
Student safety is becoming a risk in big cities as rent prices are on the rise increasing up to 15% in the last 5 years.
Are people being pressured into having sex to stay off the streets?
Websites such as Craigslist are being used as an online platform where people are advertising ‘FREE RENT’ under the condition that the tenant provides intimate acts on a regular basis to the other (paying) tenant.
Salford and Greater Manchester areas are littered with online adverts listing ‘free room for young woman/student’ as the hook before introducing ‘sexual arrangement FWB’.
The Sexual Offences Act 2003 loosely defies sexual consent as when an individual agrees by choice and has the freedom and capacity to make that choice. Providing that there can be any proof given what so ever, agreeing to such acts proves how blurred the lines are between inciting prostitution and ‘helping out young girls’.
“Agreeing to have sex with someone under the pressure and fear of homelessness, or in exchange for the basic right to have somewhere to live, does not equate to agreeing by choice.’ – Kate Russell, of Rape Crisis England and Wales
Such acts and arrangements are already a criminal act under the England and Wales laws and those breaching the act can be arrested for inciting prostitution which carries a sentence of up to seven years.
Consent of these acts is one of the fears of the public as many could feel obligated to perform sex acts under pressure of being ‘helped’ with free housing.
A man was recently arrested in London for raping women who he had lured to his flat after they refused his sex-for-rent offer.
The use of social media means sinister intentions are being masked by other genuine adverts for people offering spare rooms.
MP’s have raised questions about the investigations in parliament. The acts (of posting adds for free rent in return for sexual favours) are described as ‘disgraceful’ and ‘immoral’.
Do you think it's morally acceptable to offer free rent in exchange for sexual acts?
— Quays News (@QuaysNews) May 1, 2018
Since the documentary aired on BBC, there has been a decrease in adverts but this does not mean that the problem is solved.
The forever increasing rent prices, the pressures of being homeless and the vulnerability of young people means this issue is one of the options that people have to ‘help’ themselves. The domination of older men, luring in younger women for sexual gain is a real problem today and more and more news coverage is surrounding the issue.
But there are no known prosecutions over “sex for rent” in the UK because it is such a new phenomenon.
If you would like to know more information, you can watch the BBC documentary online here, for free with a valid TV licence.