Sexual Harassment in Housing
Sexual harassment is considered a form of sex discrimination that is prohibited by the Fair Housing Act. Sexual harassment includes any unwanted sexual advance, request for sexual favors, or other unwelcome verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment can occur to any person, male or female, and can be committed by someone of the same sex or some-one of the opposite sex. Sexual harassment committed by a landlord, real estate agent, build¬ing manager, maintenance person, loan officer, insurance agent, or any other person involved in providing housing, or involved in a real estate-related transaction, is a violation of the Fair Housing Act. In some instances, property owners or managers may be held respon¬sible for failing to help a tenant who they know is being harassed by another tenant or neighbor.
Examples of sexual harassment in housing include:
- Requesting rent to be paid in sexual favors instead of money.
- Conditioning home repairs or other housing benefits on performance of a sexual favor.
- A housing provider, real estate agent, insurance or loan officer, or their employee making sexual comments or using sexual words in front of you and/or your family.
- A housing provider, real estate agent, insurance or loan officer, or their employee touching your body or asking for you to remove your clothing.
- A housing provider or their employee refusing to help after being informed that another tenant is sexually ha¬rassing you.
A victim of sexual harassment is not required to follow the par¬ticular sexual harassment reporting procedures of the property owner or manager in order to have his or her sexual harassment claim addressed. If you have experienced sexual harassment, or otherwise believe you have been discriminated against in violation of the Fair Hous¬ing Act, you may file a complaint directly with the U.S. Depart¬ment of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”), contact the Fort Wayne Metropolitan Human Relations Commission (“Metro”).
What to do if you feel you are being sexually harassed in housing:
- Be Prepared! Know your rights and responsibilities as a tenant. The more you know about your rights and responsibilities as a tenant or home buyer, the more easily you can spot potential problems early, identify rules that apply and use those rules as tools to resolve those is-sues.
- Tell the harasser to stop. If you don’t feel comfortable confronting the harasser or the conduct does not stop, tell your housing provider.
- Report the harassment to your housing provider. Clearly identify how you are be¬ing harassed or treated differently from others in your effort to secure housing.
- Keep records, including witness names, telephone numbers and addresses. You may want to make a written description of the events that took place and retain copies of any policies or documentation from the housing provider. If you have email correspondence with the housing provider, you should save these messages as well.
- Act promptly. Once your housing provider knows about the harassment, it has a responsibility to take remedial action to stop the harassment.
- Contact the Fort Wayne Metropolitan Human Relations Commission (“Metro”) or HUD. The services are free and you do not need a lawyer to file a charge. If you cannot reach a resolution with a hous¬ing provider, call Metro or HUD.