"A growing number of landlords are asking tenants for sex in exchange for housing as coronavirus lockdowns and job cuts have left many struggling to pay their rent, housing experts said.
A survey by the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) of more than 100 fair housing groups combating discrimination across the United States found that 13% had seen an increase in sexual harassment complaints during the coronavirus pandemic.
'If I did not have sex with him, he was going to put me out,' one woman facing eviction by her property manager told the NFHA in an podcast on their website. 'As a single mum, I had no choice. I didn’t want to lose my housing.'
Sex for rent has come under growing scrutiny in the United States and Britain in recent years amid spiralling housing costs. Charities have highlighted a rise in online adverts offering rent-free accommodation in exchange for sexual favours.
Under the new coronavirus pandemic, millions of people worldwide have lost jobs or income as lockdowns and travel restrictions have forced many businesses to close their doors.
Authorities in North America and Europe have introduced cash benefits, rent freezes and banned evictions in a bid to protect people from homelessness.
'Folks that are really vulnerable when faced with eviction, especially during a pandemic, they are sometimes faced with impossible choices,' said Morgan Williams, general counsel for the NFHA, which protects tenants against housing discrimination.
'The predators in the housing context ... seize upon that vulnerability,' he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation."