52-year-old man charged in first ever 'sex for rent' case

Victoria Bell
·3-min read
Conceptual image of Sexual services or Sex tourism.
The charges are believed to be the first to be brought in England and Wales over so-called sex for rent allegations, where rent-free accommodation is offered in return for sex. (Getty)

A 52-year-old man has been charged over “sex for rent” allegations in what is believed to be the first case of its kind.

Christopher Cox, 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 are believed to be the first to be brought in England and Wales over so-called sex for rent allegations, where rent-free accommodation is offered in return for sex.

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

“The charges arose out of an investigation by ITV researchers, passed to police in 2019, which resulted in further criminal enquiries.

Exterior signage of UK Government Office in Westminster, London
Updated guidance, changed in 2019, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said that existing laws can be interpreted to criminalise sex-for-rent deals. (PA)

“This is a complex case and we have reached the decision following a careful review of all the evidence gathered during this period.

“Criminal proceedings against this defendant are now active and he has a right to a fair trial.

“It is extremely important that there should be no reporting, commentary or sharing of information online which could in any way prejudice these proceedings.”

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Cox is due to appear at North Surrey magistrates’ court on February 24.

In 2019, legal guidance on “prostitution and exploitation of prostitution offences” was changed to make offering tenants rent-free accommodation in return for sex a criminal offence.

This followed a series of reports of landlords offering rooms for free, so long as the tenant agreed to engage in sexual activity with them.

HOVE, BRIGHTON, ENGLAND - MAY 16:  Labour MP Chuka Umunna (R) talks with local candidate Peter Kyle (R) as he campaigns and door knocks in the constituency on May 16, 2017 in Hove, Brighton, England. Political parties and candidates continue to campaign across the United Kingdom following Prime Minister Theresa May's decision to call a snap election for June 8th. (Photo by Nicola Tree/Getty Images)
Peter Kyle, left, here with Chuka Ummuna in 2017, has been campaigning on the issue and has consistently called for landlords who offer accommodation in exchange for sex to be prosecuted. (PA)

In the updated guidance, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said that existing laws can be interpreted to criminalise sex-for-rent deals, meaning that a person who enters into an arrangement to provide accommodation in exchange for sex could be committing the offence of causing prostitution for gain contrary to Section 52 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

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A 2018 survey by the housing charity Shelter England found about 250,000 women in the country had been asked for sexual favours in place of rent in the last five years.

Peter Kyle, Labour MP for Hove has been campaigning on the issue and has consistently called for landlords who offer accommodation in exchange for sex to be prosecuted.

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