Share via Email Young people desperate to find affordable housing are a key target. Alamy To the unaware, the true meaning of some of the phrases used on the ads for tenants could be missed. Renting rooms for sexual favours is seen as a growing menace by campaigners, and a byproduct of a housing crisis where young people are unable to find somewhere to live without spending exorbitant sums. The problem has become particularly marked in university towns, where young women are targeted by rogue landlords.
But while then justice secretary David Lidington last year said such offers may breach the Sexual Offences Act, there is frustration that more is not being done. Kyle has been campaigning on the issue and has consistently called for landlords who offer accommodation in exchange for sex to be prosecuted. While many appear in London, room shares in exchange for sex are advertised around the country through sites such as Craigslist.
This was grimly illustrated in a survey carried out last year where people detailed their experiences. One woman told how a landlord wanted to have sex with her in return for keeping the rent down — while her six-year-old daughter was in the garden. Damp was never fixed. Asthmatic kid still needed hospital.
Another woman, who was struggling to pay the rent one month, was thrown out when she refused to provide sex. Paul Noblet, head of public affairs at Centrepoint, says thousands of young people are taking desperate measures to get off the streets. He is calling on the government and police to enforce the law.
Advertising in this way is not against the law — only the actual transaction is. This makes prosecution difficult. The other victims While much of the attention is focused on women being exploited, vulnerable young men are also targeted. Men can fall to the bottom of the local authority housing list, as they are seen as less at risk than women, says Duncan Craig, chief executive of Survivors Manchester, which supports male survivors of sexual abuse and rape.
A spokesperson for Gumtree, where the Observer found an ad that was subsequently made unavailable, says it has systems to block similar posts. We have a variety of measures in place to ensure they do not make it on to the platform, and work closely with law enforcement agencies to share information.
Kyle has welcomed the moves by Gumtree, which he describes as proactive in trying to resolve the problem. Craigslist, however, comes in for severe criticism. I cannot stress [enough] how disgusted I am with them. Send naked pic and details if interested. Temporary for two weeks and free if you are willing to do the cleaning etc. Rent free and food provided. Nothing sexual unless we both want it. Local small business owner. Wanting a woman for long-term friendship. House mate only home two to three days a week due to work.
Please send picture and description.