A landlord from Surrey has become the first person to be convicted for “sex-for-rent” offences in England and Wales.
Guildford Crown Court heard that Christopher Cox, 53, “targeted vulnerable young women” who needed a place to stay including one female who was homeless, “unwell and desperate”.
Cox, who previously pleaded guilty to a charge of controlling prostitution for gain and two counts of inciting prostitution for gain, has been jailed for 12 months.
Judge Robert Fraser told Cox that his behaviour was a “cynical attempt to take advantage by dangling a carrot to those who had little choice” and that he was involved in “very deliberately targeting homeless women who were vulnerable”.
The judge said the offending has now become “colloquially known as sex-for-rent” and “this is the first such prosecution that has been brought”.
Cox posted adverts online seeking young or homeless women to live with him at his home in Cranleigh, Surrey.
He sought “a girl in need”, adding, “If you are a young girl 16-plus who is stuck at home and wants to get away or maybe you are homeless seeking a safe route out, I have a room available in my home for a young girl”.
He requested photos of the prospective tenants and said they should wear bikinis and also provide sexual services in exchange for a room.
The case concerned three women and offences committed between May 2018 and November 2018.
Cox’s adverts attracted the interest of ITV, who launched an undercover investigation, involving TV presenter Jeremy Kyle who confronted the landlord Cox and told him that “what he was doing in targeting young vulnerable women for sexual favours was morally wrong and criminal”, prosecutor Ross Talbott said.
Despite being confronted by TV cameras, Cox continued sending out his adverts.