A Liberal Democrat MP is seeking to amend the Renters’ Reform Bill to make it illegal for tenants to be offered ‘sex-for-rent’ deals.
The Renters’ Reform Bill is the measure which is expected to include the scrapping of Section 21 eviction powers and the start of the concept of lifetime deposits transferable from one property to another when a tenant moves.
No date has yet been made available in Parliamentary business for the Bill to be introduced, although it was announced in the Queen’s Speech in December as being a measure that would be initiated in 2020.
However, Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hobhouse has already indicated that she will seek support for an amendment to prosecute sex-for-rent landlords and to reassure victims that they won’t be accused of prostitution.
Writing on the website Politics Home she says: “There are laws against soliciting prostitution and so placing this type of advert should be illegal, surely? Of course, these situations can be complicated and there are always those who would rather scrutinise the victims as opposed to the perpetrators. These commentators are wrong to do this.”
Hobhouse says that almost a year has passed since the Crown Prosecution Service tightened deadlines on advertisements suggesting sex-for-rent but “there still has not been a single successful prosecution for sex for rent - a new approach is needed.”
She continues: “Speaking to legal experts, they raise the concern that anyone bringing a case against a landlord could risk being labelled a prostitute. For this reason, victims feel afraid to come forward – concerned that by involving the law they put themselves in jeopardy. And the worst part is, as the law currently stands, that could easily be the case.”
Hobhouse says the legal ambiguity must be ended.
“We need to place a specific duty on landlords not to pursue sex for rent arrangements. I will be putting down an amendment to the Government’s forthcoming Renters’ Reform Bill to do exactly that: provide a mechanism in law to prosecute landlords who exploit their tenants.
“This is an appalling practice and, as I have learned in the last year and a half, it is also a complicated issue. It will not go away by itself and we must act now in order to stop it becoming common place. Most importantly, the victims of sex for rent arrangements need clarity and justice. And this is what I will be fighting for with my amendment to the Renters’ Reform Bill.”