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Sexual Harassment

The Fair Housing Act includes sex in its protected classes. One form of sex discrimination is sexual harassment of a tenant by a landlord or a landlord’s employee. If you have any reason to believe that you have been the victim of housing discrimination, please call us toll-free at 1-877-979-FAIR to discuss the situation.

Sexual harassment includes any unwanted sexual advance, request for sexual favors, or other unwelcome verbal or physical contact of a sexual nature. It can occur to any person and can be committed by someone of the same or differing sex. In housing, sexual harassment may fall under one of several categories, including Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment or Hostile Environment Sexual Harassment.

Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment: when a housing provider makes conditions of housing dependent on sexual conduct.

Examples of potential quid pro quo sexual harassment include:

  • A property manager evicts a tenant after the tenant refuses to perform sexual acts.
  • A maintenance man requires nude photos of the tenant before making repairs to the apartment.
  • A landlord tells an applicant he won’t rent an apartment unless the tenant has sex with him.

Hostile Environment Sexual Harassment: when a housing provider, or another tenant, engages in unwelcome sexual behavior that results in an environment that is intimidating, hostile, offensive, or otherwise significantly less desirable.

Examples of potential hostile environment sexual harassment include:

  • A landlord subjects a tenant to touching, kissing, or groping.
  • A property manager makes lewd comments about a tenant’s body.
  • A maintenance man sends a tenant sexually suggestive texts and/or enters the tenant’s apartment without invitation or permission.

Making a Sexual Harassment Claim

In order to make a claim, an individual must show that the sexual conduct by the housing provider or his employee was unwelcome. Even if an individual submits to the sexual conduct, it is possible that the conduct was still unwelcome and a claim may still be filed.

If a tenant is experiencing sexual harassment, they should immediately tell someone else and write down the following:

The tenant should also keep any documents related to the harassment, such as notes or gifts from the harasser, rent increase notices, warning notices, or eviction notices. Although having all the above information isn’t necessary, it can serve as supportive evidence if a claim is filed.

Individuals can file claims of sexual harassment even if they didn’t experience the loss of a housing opportunity or some tangible economic outcome.

Claims are evaluated based on their individual merits and factual circumstances to determine if there is reasonable cause to believe that the discrimination occurred.

Example

A housing provider is informed by one of their tenants that they are being sexually harassed by another tenant. Instead of addressing the situation or taking action, they refuse to help, allowing the sexual harassment to continue.

Example

A landlord tells one of his tenants that he will only continue renting to her if she goes on a date with him. Although the tenant does not want to go on the date, she agrees because she is fearful of losing her home if she doesn’t. Although she went on the date with him, the sexual advances were unwelcome, so a claim for sexual harassment does exist.

Example

A maintenance employee makes sexual comments or innuendos in front of a tenant while working on repairs. Although the tenant did not experience any threat to his housing, the sexual conduct was still unwelcome.


The FHC Can Help With Housing Discrimination.

If you believe you have been the victim of housing discrimination, please call us toll-free at 1-877-979-FAIR to discuss the situation.

Information provided about allegations or complaints of housing discrimination will be kept confidential. We will not report undocumented immigrants to the authorities.

Retaliation is illegal. Any attempt should be immediately reported to the FHC.

Download our Sexual Harassment Fact Sheet (PDF)
Hoja de Hechos: Ley Federal de Vivienda Justa Discriminacion Sexual – Acoso Sexual (PDF)

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