Wednesday 16 January 2019

UK landlord offering 'sex for rent' claims he is not breaking the law

Stock photo: Deposit
Stock photo: Deposit

Maya Oppenheim

A UK landlord who offers free accommodation in return for sex has insisted he is not doing anything illegal.

The man, whose identity was concealed, said he did not see anything wrong with a “friends with benefits” arrangement with his tenants as long as both parties are aware of what they are signing up to.

During the appearance on ITV’s This Morning, the man, who was previously married and has children, said he was strict about the age of those who came to live with him and said he did not respond to 15, 16 and 17-year-olds who got in contact with him.

The interview followed a This Morning investigation which claimed 250,000 women were being offered free or discounted rent in exchange for sexual favours in the UK.

The home owner, who said he had already had three long-term arrangements, said: “I’m very forward and honest and I don’t tell lies. I have been married and I have a family. But I find that modern day relationships do not work and if they do they only work for a short period of time.

“Most females lie. The same as most males do,” he said. “They are working to an agenda whereas I don’t, I’m very honest, I’m very upfront.”

The landlord, who has young daughter, said “there are a lot of 15, 16 and 17-year-olds who contact me on a regular basis” but said he was not interested.

He said his children knew about his renting arrangements, that he was “looking for fun” and was “very privileged” and that he worked very hard.

He said he spends three, four or five days with someone before he decides whether they are suitable to live with, but there is no physical contact during this time.

“More than a fully-stocked fridge, I offer them a life. I have had three long-term partners that have all had their own businesses, their own family, they are still in touch with me. They still all talk to me. I’m not a pervert ... It’s an arranged relationship.”

The man, who said he was offering tenants an opportunity to improve their life and was not looking for someone vulnerable, insisted he had a “fantastic life” and he just wanted to “share it”.

ITV Presenter Holly Willoughby suggested that part of the so-called arrangement involves breaking the law. She said: “But when someone offers accommodation in return for sex … they are causing another person to have sex in return for payment, a breach of the sexual offence act provides a maximum sentence of seven years.”

But the man insisted he was “doing nothing wrong”.

“It’s an arrangement between two adult human beings. I’m not looking for a sixteen-year-old, an eighteen-year-old, I want someone of my own age. I’m not looking for somebody that’s vulnerable, and if somebody is vulnerable, I wouldn’t be interested.’”

Last year then Justice Secretary, David Lidington, said rent-for-sex offers may breach the Sexual Offences Act.

“An offence is committed when a person offers accommodation in return for sex, as they are inciting/causing another person to have sex with them in return for ‘payment’”, he told Hove MP Peter Kyle in a letter.

Viewers have condemned the landlord for his comments and arrangements on Twitter.

“If he thinks he’s doing nothing wrong, why isn’t he showing his face? People his own age? Laughable!” said one woman on Twitter.

“This is AWFUL. The women do it because they are desperate and these men are preying on that and using their power. Sick. #ThisMorning,” added another.

“Says he’s not looking for vulnerable people but is advertising that he can offer them a whole life, not just an apartment. Sounds like he’s trying to appeal to people who are struggling to me,” chimed in one more.

Rent-for-sex adverts have appeared on websites like Craigslist for a number of years.

A BBC Three documentary in February saw an undercover reporter discover huge amounts of online adverts for rooms across the UK that come at a sexual rather than financial cost.

Housing charity Shelter has said the adverts were “expressly targeting” homeless women and seeking to exploit the UK’s housing crisis.

It said: “This isn’t just in bad taste or ‘creepy’. It is a dangerous attempt to establish deeply exploitative relationships off the back of homelessness.”

Campaigners say renting rooms for sexual favours is seen as a growing issue and a consequence of a housing situation where young people are forced to pay extortionate amounts to find somewhere to live. The problem has become particularly pronounced in university towns where young women are targeted by rogue landlords.

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