Sex for rent should not exist in a functioning and moral housing market.
Yet somehow we have been complicit in watching as an older generation have become asset rich beyond their skills and investments, whilst a younger generation are left to trade sex for the privilege of a roof over their heads and not sleeping on the street.
Looking through Craigslist’ and other sites the channel’s reporter; Sian Thomas contacted a group of men (and yes they were all men) all seeking sex in return for lower cost or free accommodation.
The adverts all used a wide variety of euphemisms but my favourite was the laughable “friends with benefits”.
Could a predator abusing their position in a market be anything further from a friend with benefits?
How did men with what appeared to be limited skills become owners of enough surplus accommodation they could disguise the missing rent money from their family and from the tax man?
This is a question about the distortion of our housing market.
This is a problem that even with all the current publicity across the UK just doesn’t seem to be going away.
Craigslist’s continue to allow such adverts to be freely available; an example of such advert from today states:
“Room share available. (Cardiff)
Are you looking to come to Cardiff for the night or for longer.
I’m on the search for a bed buddy to share my bed with.
Age. Race. Size unimportant.
I’m 45. White. Average build.
Can be flexible concerning any payment
serious enquiries only. I don’t respond to email requests.
Send a pic and a little about yourself and dates when you are thinking.
The men who were filmed during the programme covered their predatory nature by deceiving themselves that they were helping people who needed accommodation.
But once the reporter pressed for details of what exactly “friends with benefits” would mean and what would qualify as an “arrangement”, one of the predators stated “I’m getting on a bit so if I said twice a week for the both of us…nothing kinky, I like oral”.
The other man said he would want sex “once a week” to qualify for a rent-free arrangement.
This was no friendship offer of help; he had calculated the value of his lost rent, which equated back to sex at least “once a week”.
For him it removed the risk of the street sex market and left him in control.
This man was abusing the power of being lucky enough to have access to housing, something many young people today do not have access to.
Non compliance could have meant eviction and I have no doubt when this man had reached his place of power the demands would be much more than ‘sex once a week.’
When exposed as the predators they are; both the men captured in the sting pleaded for a clemency that they were never going to offer their future tenants.
“I am a good man it was just a mistake, don’t ruin my life, I am married and I am a grandfather” while the other said “I never set out to harm anyone. Please don’t expose me for a monster”.
The man had sent the reporter more than 60 emails to check her desperation before he met her. He had then calculated in his head the economic value of sex in relation to his empty accommodation.
This was no honest mistake this was economic exploitation of a vulnerable person.
This is what concerns me the most – the thought that those who are most vulnerable, can be so easily exploited with no other safe and secure housing option.
I first raised the issue of sex for rent in Wales at the CIH Cymru TAI conference last year.
Following the conference I worked with local labour AM Dawn Bowden. Dawn raised the issue in the Senedd, where she stated that the practice was “inherently immoral and is deliberately targeting desperate women and sometimes men, who feel they have no other options than to give in to this exploitation.”
During the meeting it was acknowledged that the problem was part of a more fundamental problem facing young people and their struggle to find accommodation. I certainly agree with this comment.
What we need now is action. It has been confirmed that this ‘arrangement’ is illegal; we need to see these landlords prosecuted.
This has been reported on too many times; we can help to end this immoral growing market by:
- Campaigning and continuing to expose these ‘landlords’ for what they really are.
- Work to fix the housing market, ensuring those most vulnerable have access to housing that suits their needs – one positive approach to this would be for us to champion the ‘housing first’ model.
- Tax the lost revenue from sex to rent – remember it was the tax department who did for Al Capone
- Implement a whistle blowing arrangement where if a tenant raises a sex for rent arrangement they cannot be subsequently evicted by the landlord in a no fault eviction and help these people to find other suitable accommodation.
- Campaign and support the call to end youth homelessness.