Landlord Accused of Harassment
A Waterloo, Iowa landlord is in hot water with HUD after an employee was accused of harassing female tenants.
HUD has filed housing discrimination charges over allegations that the property manager made repeated unwanted sexual comments and advances against two tenants. The complaint claims that he requested sexual favors in exchange for rent or other housing benefits.
According to HUD, the employee, a 53-year-old divorced man, worked for the landlord’s property management company. He repeatedly made unwelcome and offensive sexual comments and gestures toward two women residing at the property he managed, an 84-unit high rise, suggesting that they could exchange sex for rent, cable service, and other housing services.
The property was certified for Section 8 and housed a number of low income, disabled or elderly tenants. HUD determined the actions were sufficiently severe and pervasive to unreasonably interfere with the women’s tenancy and cause them emotional distress, economic loss, and other damages. The two women, one in her 40’s and one in her 50’s, eventually moved from the apartment complex.
The Fair Housing Act prohibits housing discrimination based on race, sex, color, national origin, disability, religion and familial status, including the sexual harassment of tenants.
The property owner and property management company are being charged for vicarious liability. Neither had in place a sexual harassment policyto resolve harassment complaints or address concerns of tenants.
The claims against the man’s female supervisor were dropped when it was determined that she did not participate in nor conceal the harassment.
Sexual harassment by housing providers is especially pernicious as it makes its targets feel uncomfortable and afraid to live in the place they call home, stated John Trasvia, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. Harassment victims are not alone in the fight to protect their housing rights. HUD works vigorously to enforce their right to live free from discrimination.
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