HUD Settles With Landlords Over Sexual Harassment In Housing

Sexual harassment in housing complaints by tenants continue to be a HUD focus as HUD and the U.S. Department of Justice have combined to fight sexual harassment in housing which has led to fines totaling more than $120,000 against landlords in three states recently.

“It’s against the law to harass residents of housing because of sex, disability or any another protected characteristic. The settlements we are announcing today reflect HUD’s commitment to rooting out sexual harassment and all housing discrimination as we know it,” Anna Maria Farias, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, said in a release.

Sexual harassment in housing fight

When the HUD joined the Justice Department to fight sexual harassment in housing, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a release, “Sexual harassment in housing is illegal, immoral, and unacceptable. It is all too common today, as too many landlords, managers, and their employees attempt to prey on vulnerable women. We will not hesitate to pursue these predators and enforce the law.

“Landlords are required to comply with the Fair Housing Act, the federal law that has banned housing discrimination for the last 50 years,” she said.

In the California  case HUD said:

    • A California landlord made repeated unwanted sexual advances towards a male tenant with a mental disability and ultimately evicted him for refusing the advances. The landlord agreed to pay the tenant $12,000 and attend fair housing training.

In the Florida case HUD said:

    • A Jacksonville, Florida housing authority employee on multiple occasions sexually harassed a female resident. The alleged harassment included unwelcome sexual comments, requests for sex or sexual favors, and threats of eviction if the tenant did not submit to such requests. The housing authority agreed to pay the resident $75,000, adopt a new sexual harassment policy, and require staff to attend fair housing training.

In the Virginia case HUD said:

    • An independent senior living facility failed to take reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment of a female tenant by another tenant. The female tenant alleged that a male tenant harassed her with unwelcome and unsolicited advances, made suggestive comments, whistled at her, and followed her around the apartment complex. The facility agreed to pay complainants $37,500 and adopt a sexual harassment policy

News reports said in September 2015, a female resident of The Park at Ridgedale Independent Living said a neighbor sexually harassed her and other female residents. She alleged the neighbor made numerous advances against her, making sexually suggestive comments, catcalling her, and making physical approaches towards her in the common areas.

She reported the incidents to the complex management, TRG Management Company, LLP, and the Chesterfield County Police Department. She also contacted the fair housing non-profit HOME (Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia, Inc.).