Statement about sex-for-rent exploitation in Canterbury
In recent weeks, an investigation by Unified revealed that a number of Canterbury landlords have been luring students into exploitative sex-for-rent arrangements. The article explains how more than 10 landlords have admitted to taking women students as tenants - some of whom are international students - in exchange for regular sexual favours.
UCASU condemns this behaviour and wants to highlight that it is criminal. Landlords offering this arrangement could face criminal charges and up to seven years in prison. These ‘deals’ are set up to target vulnerable students who can’t afford rising rent prices in student accommodation. There is support available for students in unstable housing or financial situations (more detail below), and information on the NHS website about how to access help after being sexually assaulted or exploited.
If you are a victim or potential victim of sex-for-rent exploitation, you should not hesitate to seek help - your landlord has committed the crime and should, if you feel comfortable, be reported.
Kent Police has said:
*Kent Police urges people to report any cases of sex for rent landlords. They promise that landlords who participate in this exchange will be investigated and even prosecuted if a criminal act has been committed.
*Det. Chief Inspector Lee Whitehead of Kent Police said: “Landlords who advertise rooms in exchange for sexual favours are actively targeting vulnerable people, and I would urge anyone who is being exploited in this way to please report it to us.
*“Any incidents reported to Kent Police will be fully investigated to establish if any crimes have been committed, and officers will work with the Crown Prosecution Service to charge offenders and bring them before the courts.”
Acorn, a tenants’ union, campaigns against the ‘sex for rent’ arrangements and is determined to have the law changed so landlords like this can be prosecuted. If you’d like to get involved, join the Tenant Support Facebook group.
UCASU urges students to register with our accreditation system, HomeStamp to protect themselves and help tackle the exploitation of women students. If you’re homeless or at risk of losing your home, you can seek help from your local council. Shelter can offer support with accessing emergency housing. Lastly, if you’re sleeping rough or aware of someone who is, you can get in touch with Streetlink, or seek advice from your Students’ Union.
*From Unified, 11/09/2018