In Depth

Rightmove apologises for ‘sex for rent’ ad for Birmingham house

Property website said the advert had been removed as soon as the company was aware of it

Rightmove has apologised after a "sex for rent” advert appeared on its website.

The two-bedroom house, in Longbridge, Birmingham, “was advertised as £23 a week for a female student tenant with ‘reduced rent for special favours’”, reports the BBC.

Student Rosh Rashid, who is looking for a two-bedroom property to rent in the area, shared a screenshot of the advert on Twitter, writing: “Available to ‘female students’ ... available on a reduced rent for ‘special favours to be discussed.’ Wow”

The 21-year-old said she shared the advert “so others are aware”. “I just can’t believe Rightmove allowed it to be advertised in the first place,” she told the Press Association.

Rightmove responded to the tweets, explaining that the advert had been removed from its website.

The company also vowed to speak to the agent advertising the property and to examine its vetting processes “as this listing is clearly in breach of our terms”.

Local MP Jess Phillips, told The Daily Telegraph: "Rightmove is a site I use myself and is well-respected by most people who would be horrified to think that it was being used like this. It is a huge breach of trust."

A spokesperson for the Rape and Sexual Violence Project said: “There’s no doubt that listings sites like Rightmove ought to be doing more to regulate their adverts. There are exploitative landlords abusing their financial control over people for sexual gain.”

The practice of offering cheaper rent in exchange for sexual relations has become more common in recent years.

Housing charity Shelter reported in 2016 that 28% of women sleeping rough have had unwanted sex in order to find a bed for the night while a YouGov poll released in January found more than 250,000 female renters had been offered rent reductions for sex in the past five years.

It remains legal to advertise in this way with Robert Conway, director of criminal defence at law firm Vardags telling Cosmopolitan earlier this year: “Regrettably, but - notwithstanding the bold and shameful soliciting of sex on public internet forums - it is legal.”

However, Conway told the magazine that given the level of the crisis facing young people when it comes to housing in London, the issue “raises the interesting question of whether or not these arrangements undermine an individual’s freedom of choice”.

“Section 74 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 provides that a person consents if they agree by choice, and have the freedom and capacity to make that choice. The concept of ‘freedom’ can, as in this instance, mean economic freedom,” he said.

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