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10th April 2024

No-sex tenancy clauses are a landlord’s newest weapon amid the housing crisis

Imagine not being able to have sex in your house. It might become the reality under a ‘no-sex tenancy clause’
No-sex tenancy clauses are a landlord’s newest weapon amid the housing crisis

Moving out comes with so many perks: no more chores, choosing what you want to do with your day, and freeing yourself from the thought that your parents are no longer in the room next door…

The freedom from living under the watchful and judgemental eyes of our parents never felt so liberating; in other words, Big Brother was no longer watching. With your newfound freedom, you can sink your teeth into the joys of being a modern adult that we looked up to in our favourite TV shows. Maybe we’ll be like Rory in Gilmore Girls and end up in a disappointingly overcomplicated love triangle. Maybe you wanted to live your New Girl-Jess Day fantasy and sleep with your housemate. The possibilities are endless!

But, what if I said that the housing crisis is making it possible for young adults to no longer have a sex life? Because, in UK cities, landlords are starting to test the limits of what or who they can control in their properties.

Vice reported on multiple instances of landlords enforcing “no-sex” clauses in tenancy contracts. Vice detailed landlords going “ape-shit” over tenants having sex in “their” properties, as well as tenants being pressured and “slut-shamed” by landlords under the guise of religious purity and protection.

It seems that no-sex tenancy clauses are something on the rise, as landlords continue to push the boundaries of how they can control their properties and tenants; which is made all the worse given the rapidly growing housing crisis. This abuse of power, along with the existence of no-fault evictions, preys on the limitations of the current housing market and the desperation of Gen Z to find somewhere liveable and affordable.

None of this would be possible without, again, the existence of no-fault evictions. It’s in the name: landlords can evict you for absolutely no reason. Even with multiple parliamentary debates and bills proposed, there has been nothing definite in place to protect the rights of renters. The Renter’s Reform Bill, which is currently being debated, hopes to abolish no-fault evictions so tenants are empowered to stand up to their landlords. However, of course, the Tories want to water down the bill in order to give more rights to landlords. Obviously, some of those fighting for the bill to be watered down are landlords themselves.

Although most students rent through student letting agents or live in student accommodation, most of these problems are through private landlords. However, student landlords, as we all know, are no saints in this regard either. Ever had to check a guest in? Get an overnight guest preapproved? These are subtle ways of enforcing no-sex clauses; imagine having to sign in a one-night stand to your student accommodation. Accommodations take advantage of the anxieties of young people surrounding sexual proclivity by naming and shaming their tenants and how many guests they bring home. You can even forget the name of your hookup, but I’m sure the person at the front desk remembers.

Sex, paired with one’s bodily autonomy, is one of the most sensitive “enjoyment[s]” we should be able to have within the comfort of your own home. Tenants are legally entitled to “quiet enjoyment” and I imagine we all enjoy sex; the only judgement we should have is from our housemates the next morning, not a random middle-aged person who exorts us monthly for a barely-functioning house.

There is a larger anti-sex sentiment growing in society, as the Vice article touches on. Ever since the overturning of Roe V Wade in 2023, there has been a problematic shift back to conversative social policy surrounding bodily autonomy and sex. From the restriction to access of abortion procedures, removing healthcare for transgender people, or to unreformed sex education, Gen Z are now the martyrs of the failing conservatism that plagues our sex lives. A University of Chicago study revealed that three in ten Gen-Z boys and one in four Gen-Z girls did not have sex in 2022-23. Some of the grounds given were due to emotional reasons, but also due to the fact of the fear of judgement and anxieties.

Liberal and progressive attitudes towards sex are being exploited by landlords amid the UK’s growing housing crisis. Most tenants who come across such arbitrary, restrictive clauses will just sit back and accept it – thinking that they may as well go back to theirs, it’s nice to get a change of scenery; or worse, will just simply forget. This is purely because of how broken the housing market at the moment; most of Gen-Z, it is predicted, will never own a house – “generation rent” is the better name. We will simply accept oppressive clauses because we have of a lack of choice – we have nowhere cheaper or better to go – and because of this, landlords are empowered to be megalomaniacs with their tenancy agreements.

Violet Robins

Violet Robins

Deputy Opinion Editor – I write about the female experience

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