U.S. Landlords Trying To Coerce Cash-Strapped Tenants Into ‘Sex-For-Rent’ Agreements
Post edited below – Landlords in the UK are also engaging in this disgusting behavior.
by A. Jamieson
April 15, 2020
“We’ve received more cases at our office in the last two days than we have in the last two years,” one women’s advocate told BuzzFeed News.
…And now some landlords are allegedly using the crisis as an opportunity to sexually harass vulnerable tenants struggling to afford rent.
“We have seen an uptick in sexual harassment,” said Sheryl Ring, the legal director at Open Communities, a legal aid and fair housing agency just north of Chicago. Ring said her organization has seen a threefold increase in sexual harassment complaints related to housing in the last month.
“Since this started, they [landlords] have been taking advantage of the financial hardships many of their tenants have in order to coerce their tenants into a sex-for-rent agreement — which is absolutely illegal,” said Ring.
The federal Fair Housing Act protects tenants from sexual discrimination by landlords, including prospective landlords. Many states also have specific housing laws banning sexual harassment or discrimination.
Landlords sexually harassing tenants is not a new situation, but large swaths of the community now being unemployed or in financial distress has made even more people vulnerable.
“Of course that’s not the root cause of why it’s happening, but it makes it easier because now [landlords] have access to people at their fingertips,” said Jabola-Carolus.
Often landlords who sexually harass tenants are serial offenders who are “taking advantage of the situation to engage in misconduct they are generally already being investigated or caught for,” said Ring.
She was already working on six sexual harassment housing cases before the COVID-19 epidemic began. But the huge number of people being unable to afford this month’s rent has dramatically increased the risk of it happening.
“We’ve heard some landlords are attempting to use the situation where a tenant falls behind to pressure a tenant into exchanging sex for rent,” said Ring.
And with stay-at-home orders being issued across the country, and a huge public health crisis unfolding, the need for safe housing is more important than ever — something that can be used by landlords to their advantage.
“The power dynamic goes without saying,” said Jabola-Carolus. “All of us feel intimidated by our landlords because shelter is so critical.”
Update. May 2022.
by Dan Sales
May 10, 2022
A landlord who was the first prosecuted under ‘sex-for-rent’ laws was in new accommodation of his own today – after being jailed for making a suicidal woman perform sexual favours for board.
Christopher Cox, 53, offered the woman a free home with him if she agreed to perform sex acts for him involving BDSM, spanking and bondage.
Guildford Crown Court heard he also forced her to wear bikinis around the house whenever he was home and made her sleep in his bed each night.
He was snared by ITV researchers who dug into ‘sex-for-rent’ practices for an investigation for The Kyle Files.
They found an advert he posted, aimed at ‘a girl in need’ and decided to go undercover.
The posts said ‘are you a young girl aged 16 plus who is stuck at home and wants to get away? Maybe you are homeless and can’t see a safe way out? I have a free room to live in for a young girl aged 14-28.’
Despite being found out and confronted by Jeremy Kyle, he messaged another woman, who also turned out to be a journalist, just a month later.
Surrey Police became aware of the offending in March 2019, two months after new CPS guidance to help police considering sex-for-rent allegations came into force.
Cox, formerly of Cranleigh, Surrey, but now of no fixed abode, admitted two counts of causing or inciting prostitution for gain and one count of controlling prostitution for gain at earlier hearings.
The offending took place between May and November 2018 and the charges relate to three separate women.
…’The defendant said the women would need to constantly wear a bikini and provide him with sexual services in return for accommodation.
‘There were discussions about bondage.
‘The women would need to engage in regular sexual activity with him and tie him up.’
He added that during the first meeting it became clear to Cox his first victim, ‘Rachel’, was an investigative journalist.
Jeremy Kyle later went up to him and told him he was targeting young women in a way which was both morally wrong and criminal.
He then sent panicked texts to a friend saying ‘I don’t know what to do, I will end up on TV, everyone will know my dirty secrets.’
He later said he ‘deserved’ the humiliation.
Despite this, he put another post up in October 2018 and he was contacted again by an undercover reporter.