This Morning Star article describes attempts by Labour politicians to make it easier to prosecute 'sex-for-rent' arrangements, where landlords "demand sex from tenants in lieu of rent".

The article includes the following paragraph:

Under current legislation, victims must be legally defined as prostitutes, which is thought to be a deterrent to victims coming forward since they may fear that it will adversely affect their future.

Under what law must victims be legally defined as prostitutes in order for a prosecution to take place?

  • 5
    It doesn't look like they would have to be defined as prostitutes, just that they would have to admit to an act of prostitution, which isn't the same thing, "Cook one meal doesn't make u a chef"-type jokes notwithstanding. Jan 6, 2021 at 15:38

3 Answers 3


Why must victims be legally defined as prostitutes in order for a prosecution to take place?

The arrangement is currently illegal* because it constitutes causing or inciting prostitution for gain or controlling prostitution for gain, contrary to section 52 or 53 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003, so the victim would then be a prostitute.

*At least in the view of the Crown Prosecution Service. As there has not been a prosecution brought in court, this interpretation on the applicability of s. 52/53 remains uncertain.


I would imagine this is because there is not a law specifically criminalizing the practice of offering a "sex-for-rent" arrangement in itself; rather, this is/has been normally handled under existing anti-prostitution law (hence the "legally defining as prostitutes").

Prostitution is the exchange of sex for "something of value", which can be, but does not necessarily need to be money, so arguably this designation is accurate, with "something of value" being waived rent obligations.

Presumably, the Labor politicians are proposing such a law, specifically criminalizing the making of such an offer.

  • "Prostitution is the exchange of sex for 'something of value', which can be, but does not necessarily need to be money" What if A wants sex in the shower with the lights on, and B wants sex in bed with the lights off? If they agree to an exchange, then is that okay, because sex itself has no value? Or is that barter arrangement an example of illegal prostitution? Apr 20 at 3:15

Sex for rent arrangements are illegal solely because prostitution is illegal, and because economic duress is not a defense to most criminal offenses or civil legal obligations. Otherwise it would be a valid barter transaction. Indeed, in lots of places, it is a valid barter transaction which isn't illegal.

Also, from a civil law perspective, the arrangement would be unenforceable and invalid because it is premised upon demanding illegal consideration.

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    In the UK prostitution itself is legal but there are various offences associated with it. This arrangement is (probably) illegal because pimping is illegal.
    – richardb
    Sep 28, 2021 at 9:20
  • 1
    @richardb Fair point. The more general issue is that any contract with illegal consideration is illegal. For example, cocaine for rent is also illegal.
    – ohwilleke
    Sep 30, 2021 at 20:05
  • what charges could an accused face for coercing someone to get money for them and having sex with someone (or with them) ? in non landlord cases
    – user49663
    Mar 30, 2023 at 13:13
  • @IndianLawDropout Not enough facts to know. The means of coercion matter as does the nexus between the coercion to get money and the use of sex to raise money. A loan shark is not inherently a pimp, even if prostitution is foreseeably very likely to be resorted to to pay the amount of money owed to the loan shark.
    – ohwilleke
    Mar 30, 2023 at 15:36
  • so if you remember my post related to prostitution. it seems to criminalise doing this act with the intent to cause the act regardless of weather an act is caused or not. is this really the case from the reading of the act ? the corruption law and the prostitution law are the most confusing laws when it comes to interpretation I've ever read
    – user49663
    Mar 30, 2023 at 20:13

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