Landlords offer free accommodation in return for sex

Holly Smith·28 April 2017·5 min read
Landlords offer free accommodation in return for sex

A recent BBC investigation has found online classified adverts which are targeting vulnerable, young people by offering free accommodation in return for sex.

BBC South East uncovered the housing adverts on websites such as Craigslist which offer rooms to those who need a home, with sex as payment.

These deals are legal, and have been found on various classified advertising sites.

More than 100 of these ads were uncovered by the BBC on Craigslist alone, and more have been found by The Telegraph and other news sites.

The Telegraph reports one advertisement which asks for a “mutual arrangement” in exchange for free accommodation.

The ad says says: “Friends with benefits – Nice Room available.  Are you female and looking for a free room? No rent, no bills, no deposit. Genuine offer.”

Other adverts ask for young people to carry out chores for the landlords, such as this one in London uncovered by the Telegraph,

“A room-share arrangement offered rent-free (in an expensive part of Central London) with myself, in exchange for a fully consensual, mutually enjoyable “friends with benefits” adult agreement with a mature (61 years) gentleman landlord (myself) and also for help with a few domestic duties.”

Another ad on Craigslist says, “I have both a spare room or room share available free of charge for an open minded naughty sexy girl starting immediately”.

Other adverts include one posted by a man from Maidstone asking for a woman to live with him and pretend to be his girlfriend, and an advert in Brighton aimed at younger men.

Landlords also state their requirements for sexual services from their new tenants in the adverts:

According to the BBC, one landlord posted: “You agree sort of like a couple of times a week, pop into my room sort of thing, but as far as the apartment’s concerned, it’s like completely as if we’re flatmates. It’s all the bills, the rent, free.”

Students and homeless young people in particular are being targeted by the ads, which charities are calling exploitative.

The BBC spoke to Mel Potter, from the women’s charity the Brighton Oasis Project. Potter described the dangers of these arrangements. 

She said: “It’s something that potentially can trap someone and put them at risk of violence and abuse.”

One student told the BBC about her experiences of being trapped in a ‘sex-for-rent’ deal after having to run from an abusive home and having nowhere to live.

“He took me into his living room, got me drinks, and then after that it was just straight upstairs and go for it.”

She continued: “He would do what he wanted to do, forcefully, and I just sort of went along with it – after the third time, I started feeling physically unwell.”

Speaking to the BBC anonymously, one landlord defended the ‘friends with benefits’ arrangements:

He told them: “You can argue that high rent charged by landlords is taking advantage too. There’s no compulsion for them to do this. Everyone goes into it with their eyes wide open.

“I am the last type of person who’d like to take advantage. Both sides have something the other person wants. I see it as a win-win situation.”

The landlord is advertising for someone to replace a six-week long arrangement of this kind which he had with a former tenant.

“I can only speak for myself but I would prefer someone older – not someone young enough to be my daughter, ” he said.

He defended the arrangements against accusations of sexual exploitation, arguing that people working in jobs they do not like was “like a form of prostitution”.

According to the BBC, the MP for Hove, Peter Kyle wants them to be made illegal. Kyle said that the websites hosting these advertisements should be held responsible and made to deal with the issue.

“If they don’t stand up to this and then accept their responsibility, I will be pushing for legislation to do it for them,” he told BBC South East.