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Just where is the line to be drawn?

This is one of those difficult ones:

A man has been charged in connection with “sex for rent” allegations in what is believed to be the first case of its kind.

Christopher Cox, a landlord from Cranleigh, in Surrey, is due to appear in court next month to face two counts of inciting prostitution for gain and one count of controlling prostitution for gain.

The charges follow a dossier of evidence that was passed to Surrey Police in 2019 following an ITV investigation for a Jeremy Kyle programme.

The phenomenon of ‘sex for rent’ emerged several years ago with claims that unscrupulous landlords were using the housing crisis and soaring rents to entice desperate and homeless women to sleep with them in return for free or cheap accomodation.

Really not sure that “you can share my flat if you share my bed” is one of those things that can or should be illegal.

Further, if someone does voluntarily make the trade – it’s not wholly and entirely unknown among humans for sex to be offered as a way of gaining something that is not-sex – then defining when this is to be illegal would seem to be fraught with problems.

Senior crown prosecutor Claire Prodger said: “Following an investigation into so-called ‘sex-for-rent’ allegations, the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) has authorised Surrey Police to charge Christopher Cox with two counts of inciting prostitution for gain and one count of controlling prostitution for gain.

Clearly there will be cases at the other end of the spectrum too. “You can have this flat if you Tom for the rent” etc.

But where is that dividing line to be usefully drawn?

27 thoughts on “Just where is the line to be drawn?”

  1. Bloke in North Dorset

    As always with these types of laws it will be left to the courts to decide. MPs did their bit, got the kudos with campaigning organisations and made themselves feel better and sod the details and moral ambiguities.

    In the meantime any number of men will be dragged through the courts while they decide what is and what isn’t against the law. It will probably end up at the Supreme Court to drag it out even longer.

    But that won’t matter to those campaigners and MPs, because to them the accusation was confirmation of guilt and the process is the punishment.

  2. Logically, if you meet socially or through a dating website, a shag is on the agenda; if you meet by the other party responding to your advert for a room to rent, normally it wouldn’t be?

    That then raises the whole business of whether actions surrounding the sex business should be illegal at all. But if soliciting a fairly obvious hooker in the street is illegal, then proposing this sort of deal to someone who had just responded to a ‘flat for rent’ advert seems at least as high, probably higher, on the dodginess scale.

  3. This could well end up being one of those cases where the jury refuse to play ball with the prosecution, in which case Simon Jenkins nyah, nyah, nyah.

  4. A contract involves ‘Consideration’. That is, each party gives to the other something which the other considers fair value in exchange for the thing they are giving. Each party’s perception that there is parity of the value exchanged is fundamental to a Contract. If the going rate for one or more shags is close to equalling the market rent for the property, the landlord cannot be guilty of doing anything ‘for gain’.

  5. How does this not include being married? If you let me shag you I’ll enter into a contract to be responsible to keep you and your offspring housed and fed.

  6. “But if soliciting a fairly obvious hooker in the street is illegal,”

    Soliciting works the other way around. “You wanna pay me?” is the soliciting part, not “You wanna get paid?”

  7. So Much For Subtlety

    Traditionally there have been few homeless women because women have fewer problems with alcohol but also because any woman willing to blow some man can be assured of a roof over her head.

    Personally I am pretty sure that being asked for sex isn’t the worst thing in the world but it would still be a better world if women were not asked for sex by their landlords. The ultimate result of all this modern vibrancy in the housing market will be purdah.

  8. In practice we’re not going to have clear-cut cases like:
    “I can’t pay the rent this month”
    “I’ll forego the rent if you sleep with me”

    The kind of landlord who goes down that route probably has other skeletons in his closet too.

    I’m surprised the CPS didn’t go for a charge of “Controlling or Coercive Behaviour in an Intimate or Family Relationship” (s76 of the Serious Crime Act 2015). Is sex-for-rent not an intimate relationship?

  9. In fairness though, it’s not always quite like that. One of the Civil Servants that I used to work with was quite open about his rental terms. He advertised on the notice board of a local language school that taught English to the sort of German and Scandiwegian girls that he was fond of. Any male callers were told that “The vacancy has been filled”, female callers were invited to view the room available for rent (in a 2 bedroom flat).

    Those that met his criteria (mainly hot and blonde) were offered a trial rental of 2 months, those that didn’t meet his criteria were told “I’ll call you at the end of next week to let you know” (he never called). At the end of the trial period, if he hadn’t manage to bed them their trial rental was not renewed.

    The guy wasn’t ugly or stupid, he was mostly just lazy. He had an attractive asset in terms of a rather elegant London flat that he’d inherited from his grandfather and he made full use of that.

    Was it sexploitation? Probably, but it certainly worked. While I was with him I met three fairly gorgeous foreign girls who lived with him (and presumably had sex with him even if they weren’t officially his girlfriends). Certainly not admirable though and absolutely not a gentleman despite his rather posh background.

  10. Cant meet the rent this month seems the most likely scenario. Not too scrupulous –but worse than throwing her out on the street? Hardly. So long as she has the option to refuse cant see any crime in it. Though not the act of a gentleman.

    Would a woman get shown all around a flat as a prospective renter when she knows she has no money? Only with the expectation on her part that she has something else of value to offer instead of money. If she makes the offer don’t see any blame if he takes it up.

    More MP bullshit as BiND says.

  11. What tiny percentage of women are worth a month’s rent for a couple of fucks?
    I think RichardT gets it about right.

    OTOH going by rents in Chelsea Cloisters hookers can certainly afford it. It is legendary in landlord circles that the best tenants are toms and the worst are nurses. one lot keeps the place clean and well maintained, the other lot are sluts. Plus prostitutes are easier to get rid of if the rent isn’t paid.

  12. “It’s not wholly, and entirely unknown,amongst humans for sex to be offered…..”
    Certainly didn’t do Kamala Harris any harm, allegedly.

  13. “Personally I am pretty sure that being asked for sex isn’t the worst thing in the world but it would still be a better world if women were not asked for sex by their landlords. The ultimate result of all this modern vibrancy in the housing market will be purdah.”

    But the alternative is “you need to pay the rent or I kick you out”, so she goes escorting to pay the rent. Then he spends the money on another escort. Net effect is pretty much the same.

    “sex shouldn’t be a commodity to be traded” say the middle class women who aren’t living with warehouse men.

  14. I don’t know the market in this, but a whole month’s rent for a shag? Isn’t that a bit expensive? Wouldn’t a couple of days’ rent be more the rate? Is this like the drugs squad’s laughable sense of market prices?

  15. If she asks someone other than the landlord to help out with the rent in return for sex is that a crime? What if it’s an existing relationship and it’s implied, you could come round and stay at my place if only I wasn’t short the rent money etc.
    The devil is going to be in the details and I’m sure there will be an uproar and call for removing juries when they don’t draw the line where the feminists want it to be

  16. and on the other hand we have the campaign for people to be paid for domestic work.. as tim has said passim … sex comes in paid and unpaid forms. So it occurs it’s as simple a tweak of the law to insist all sex must be paid for as it to insist all accomodation must be paid for.

  17. Kamala’s getting her career started by shagging her (married, much older) boss is a matter of public record. No ‘allegedly’ about it. A shining role-model for modern wimmins.

  18. The intriguing part is the “for gain” part of the charges. Unless he is pimping her out to others to fund the rent then where is the gain? Unless they are trying to suggest the benefit to him of her services rendered was more than value of the rent. You could only have a gain if the number of shags multiplied by the fair value of those shags exceeded the rent. I could see that going well in court as the prosecution try to argue she is a 10 and he has therefore generated a gain by fucking her too often whilst the defence counters that she is a 6 at best.

  19. Dear Mr Worstall

    Back in the day when there were such things, milkmen were supposedly notorious for waiving the milk bill for desperate housewives in exchange for a little nookie.

    Some years back (possibly decades) there was a Daily Wail piece about underpaid nurses so desperate to eat that they would trade a meal for nookie.

    This sort of thing has been going on for as long as there have been men and women.

    Person A has assets – money, milk, room – Person B has desire for assets and has assets of her own: potential for a trade. How the negotiations open and unfold may be subject to opprobrium on the part of one party or observers, but absent genuine threats, hardly cause for the law to become involved, save for perpetual mission creep.


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