Landlord To Pay $600,000 In Sexual Harassment Consent Order

A Georgia landlord who owns and manages 45 properties has agreed to pay $600,000 in a consent order to settle a sexual harassment charge

A Georgia landlord who owns and manages more than 45 properties has agreed to pay $600,000 in a consent order to settle a sexual harassment charge with the U.S. Department of Justice, according to a release.

According to the release, Iraj Shambayati, a landlord who owns and manages over 45 residential properties in and around Savannah, Georgia, has agreed to pay $600,000 to resolve allegations that he violated the Fair Housing Act (FHA) by sexually harassing and retaliating against his female tenants for over 15 years.

“Sexual harassment by a landlord is never acceptable,” U.S. Attorney Jill E. Steinberg for the Southern District of Georgia, said in the release. “This consent order takes Iraj Shambayati out of the property management business and emphasizes the Justice Department’s commitment to hold accountable landlords who would use their power to exploit tenants.”

The consent order “requires the defendants to vacate any retaliatory eviction judgments obtained against these tenants and to take steps to correct the tenants’ credit histories. The defendants are also prohibited from managing residential rental properties in the future and must retain an independent property manager for the properties.”

The lawsuit, filed in August 2023, alleged that, since at least 2008, Shambayati harassed female tenants by making repeated and unwelcome sexual comments and advances, inappropriately touching their bodies without their permission, entering their homes without their permission or knowledge, requesting sexual acts from them in exchange for rent or other housing-related benefits and taking retaliatory actions against female tenants who rejected his sexual advances or complained about the harassment.

Shambayati’s attorneys, James Durham and Patrick Schwedler, said in a release, “As the settlement makes clear, Mr. Shambayati denies he sexually harassed, discriminated, or retaliated against anyone.  The U.S. Government didn’t just sue Mr. Shambayati; it also sued his son and his best friend with unsubstantiated claims that they had anything to do with this case.  Before agreeing to settle, Mr. Shambayati insisted the U.S. Government dismiss the cases against his son and best friend, which it did.  Mr. Shambayati agreed to settle the case rather than put his family through years of litigation.”

The Justice Department’s Sexual Harassment in Housing Initiative is led by the Civil Rights Division, in coordination with U.S. Attorneys’ Offices across the country. The goal of the department’s initiative is to address, deter and raise awareness about sexual harassment by landlords, property managers, maintenance workers, loan officers or other people who have control over housing. Since launching the initiative in October 2017, the department has filed 40 lawsuits alleging sexual harassment in housing and recovered nearly $12 million for victims of such harassment.

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