HUD Charges Tennessee Landlord with Sexual Harassment
HUD recently charged the owner of a Tennessee mobile home park with discrimination for allegedly pressuring two female residents, a same-sex couple, to perform sexual favors for him instead of paying rent.
Federal fair housing law prohibits sexual harassment of residents and other forms of housing discrimination based on race, sex, color, national origin, disability, religion, and familial status.
HUD’s charge alleged that the owner showed the residents sexually explicit pictures and videos of women he identified as tenants, boasted that he had engaged in sexual acts with multiple female tenants, and asked the complainants to give him nude photos or videos in exchange for rent. HUD’s charge further alleged that the owner disconnected the water to the complainants’ unit after they rebuffed his advances. Allegedly, the couple and their children eventually moved out after the owner accused them of paying their rent late and issued them a notice to vacate the property.
HUD's charge will be heard by a U.S. Administrative Law Judge unless any party to the charge elects to have the case heard in federal district court.
"No one should have to submit to unwelcomed sexual advances as a condition for remaining in their home," Anna María Farías, HUD's Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, said in a statement. "Today’s charge sends a clear message to all landlords that HUD is committed to taking action against landlords whose behavior violate the Fair Housing Act."
"Subjecting female tenants to sexual harassment is illegal, and HUD will continue to enforce the Fair Housing Act against property owners who engage in such misconduct," said Paul Compton, HUD’s General Counsel. "HUD is steadfastly committed to protecting the right of tenants to be free from sexual or other discriminatory harassment by their landlords."