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LANDLORDS who offer “sex-for-rent” deals could face up to seven years in jail under a tougher new law backed by peers this week.
The House of Lords voted by 206 votes to 176 for the amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which will make it easier for landlords to be prosecuted for sexually exploiting vulnerable tenants.
The vote on Wednesday night marks a government defeat as the Home Office had argued against the new law, claiming perpetrators can already be prosecuted under existing legislation.
But Labour peer Lord Ponsonby, who tabled the amendment, argued that the law “has been made extremely difficult for sex for rent victims to seek justice,” demonstrated by the fact only one person has been charged for the crime, he added.
“According to the law, victims must be legally defined as a prostitute, which is a huge deterrent in their access to justice.”
His amendment would make it a specific criminal offence to “require or accept sexual relations as a condition of accommodation.”
On Wednesday the house also supported, without a vote, moves to fine those who facilitate sex-for-rent adverts by up to £50,000.
Labour Peer Baroness Kennedy, who is also the director of campaign group Generation Rent, said that the crime was one that goes on “openly through adverts on online platforms.
“Yet despite the adverts being clear in their intention, they go unchecked,” she told peers. “They’re largely ignored by law enforcement and the online platform providers.”
The amendment must now be supported by MPs in order to pass into law.
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