Let’s start from the beginning. What is sexual harassment? We define sexual harassment as an unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favors or other unwelcome conduct of sexual nature that would cause a person to feel offended or humiliated.
So, what about sexual harassment in housing?
Sexual Harassment in Housing
Sexual harassment in housing is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by the Fair Housing Act. There are two main types of sexual harassment: (1) quid pro quo sexual harassment; and (2) hostile environment sexual harassment.
Quid Pro Quo
Quid pro quo harassment refers to an unwelcome request or demand to engage in conduct where submission to the request or demand, either explicitly or implicitly, is made a condition related to:
- The sale, rental or availability of any structure intended for occupancy.
- The terms, conditions, or privileges of the sale or rental, or the provision of services or facilities in connection.
- The availability, terms, or conditions of a residential real estate-related transaction.
Understand Quid Pro Quo as a “this for that” or “a favor for a favor”.
- A landlord demands nude photos in return for approving a rental application.
- A property manager evicts a person because they refuse to have sex.
- A maintenance staff member requests sexual favors in return for making needed repairs.
Hostile environment harassment refers to unwelcome conduct that is sufficiently severe or pervasive to interfere with the sale, rental, availability, terms, conditions, or privileges of housing or housing-related services, including financing.
- A landlord subjects a tenant to severe or pervasive unwelcome touching, kissing, or groping without consent.
- A property manager makes persistent unwelcome, and lewd comments about a tenant’s body.
- A maintenance staff member sends a tenant severe or pervasive unwelcome, sexually suggestive texts and enters the tenants apartment without invitation or permission.
What Do You Do If You’re Being Harassed?
- Tell your harasser to stop.
- Report the harassment to your housing provider if different than your harasser.
- File a complaint with HUD.
When filing a complaint, give ANY and ALL information you have, including:
- Name of the harasser
- Location of the harassment
- Names of witnesses or other victims
- Photo or video evidence
- Copy of your lease
- Police or Medical records
- Any other evidence that will help your case
It is possible that a landlord may try to retaliate after a complaint is made. Retaliation may look like this:
- Wrongful eviction
- Increased rent
- Withholding maintenance
- & more
The FHAct protects against retaliation for reporting sexual harassment.
Want to know more? Visit the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development website.
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