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Sexual Harassment in Housing


Dedicated Sexual Harassment Lawyers Protecting Tenants from Sexual Harassment in Housing for Over 25 Years

Sexual harassment can occur in many places. It often occurs in housing, schools, the workplace, and places of public accommodations. As a matter of fact, the second most common form of sexual harassment is sexual harassment in housing. Federal and state laws prohibit sexual harassment in housing as part of sex discrimination laws. Sexual harassment creates a sense of fear and humiliation. However, when it occurs in housing, it also leaves victims with a sense of hopelessness.

Not only do the victims experience sexual harassment. They must also worry about where they can feel safe again. They must find new housing or deal with the harassment and its aftermath every time they go home. Many times, victims fear speaking up against sexual harassment. They fear landlord retaliation, such as eviction, shutting off utilities, or preventing them from obtaining a new home.

A dedicated sexual harassment lawyer can help you fight sexual harassment by your landlord or others in your rental community. Your sexual harassment attorney can help you stand up for justice and receive compensation for yourself and others.

Call our sexual harassment lawyers if you have any questions regarding sexual harassment in your housing environment.

What Is Sexual Harassment in Housing?

Sexual harassment in housing occurs when a tenant falls victim to unwanted sexual advances, comments, or contact. The harassment may occur as a request for sexual favors, comments about your body or sexual acts, or any unwelcomed touching.

Sexual harassment in housing occurs in one of three ways:

  1. Visual. Visual sexual harassment means your harasser shared images, gestures, videos, or flashes you with sexually inappropriate videos, photos, and images. They may even show you their own body parts against your will.
  2. Verbal. Verbal sexual harassment occurs when a person uses sexual comments, emails, or text messages to harass you. They may ask you sexually inappropriate questions or make sexually suggestive comments that make you uncomfortable, intimidate, or humiliate you.
  3. Physical. Physical sexual harassment occurs when a person touches you sexually. They may massage your shoulders, grab your knee, or sexually assault you.

Who Can Commit Sexual Harassment in Housing Situations?

Sexual harassment in housing does not only come from a landlord. Many people within a rental community can harass tenants.

First, harassers can be either male or female. They can harass people of the same or different sex. Assuming a harasser is a male that harasses a female will be the downfall of any defense.

Harassers can be anyone within a rental community. The following people may harass a tenant, leading to a claim for sexual harassment in housing:

  • Landlords
  • Property Managers
  • Maintenance People
  • Service Repair People
  • Other tenants
  • Employees

What Occurs When You Experience Sexual Harassment by Your Landlord?

Sexual harassment can create two types of issues. Victims can either find themselves in a quid pro quo situation or a hostile environment.

A quid pro quo situation occurs when you are promised benefits in your rental in exchange for performing sexual favors. Quid pro quo means “this for that.” Therefore, your landlord promises to provide better services, free rent, or other benefits in exchange for your agreement to sleep with him, go on a date with him, or otherwise provide sexual favors for him.

A hostile environment, on the other hand, means the harassment creates an intimidating environment that makes it impossible to continue your daily activities. It intimidates you and causes constant fear that your life and living environment is at risk.

The dedicated sexual harassment lawyers at the Derek Smith Law Group can help you determine the type of sexual harassment you suffered. They can help you sort out the details of your claim to tell your story.

What Laws Protect You from Sexual Harassment in Housing?

Federal and state laws prohibit landlord sexual harassment. The federal law, known as the Fair Housing Act (FHA), prohibits any sex discrimination and sexual harassment in housing. The FHA is also known as Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968. Congress passed it four years after passing Title VII, which protects employees from sexual harassment at work.

State laws also offer protection against sexual harassment in housing. For instance, in California, the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and the Unruh Civil Rights Act prohibit any form of sexual harassment in housing. Whether the harassment comes from a landlord, property manager, employee, service vendor, or another tenant, these laws provide you the right to stop the harassment and seek compensation if it continues.

Almost every state has laws protecting tenants from landlord sexual harassment. Contact an experienced sexual harassment lawyer to learn about your state’s laws. The dedicated attorneys at the Derek Smith Law Group in Philadelphia, New York City, Miami, Los Angeles, and New Jersey can help you determine whether to file a claim under federal law or your state’s laws.

How Can You Recognize Sexual Harassment in Housing?

Sexual harassment in housing takes several forms. Some examples include:

  • A landlord offers you a month rent-free if you perform sexual favors.
  • Your property manager raises your rent because you refused to go on a date with her.
  • Another tenant continues to peek in your windows at night. You have caught him several times.
  • Your landlord set up security cameras that face the windows of your unit. An employee of the property told you she had seen videos of you walking throughout your apartment.
  • The service provider hired to fix the plumbing in your apartment exposes himself to you.
  • The lifeguard at the property pool regularly asks to see your breasts.
  • Your landlord enters your unit unannounced and without notice. You are changing your clothing. There is no emergency.

Can You Hold Your Landlord Responsible if Another Tenant Sexually Harasses You?

Your landlord must provide you with a safe home in exchange for rent. Therefore, your landlord must do everything in his power to prevent unsafe or harassing living conditions.

If another tenant sexually harasses you, you have the right to inform your landlord. Your landlord must act against the tenant. An initial warning can put the tenant on notice that their behavior is not acceptable.

If the tenant continues, your landlord should provide written warnings, fines, and eventually file an eviction.

However, if your landlord remains silent after you let him know about the harassment, you have the right to sue him for sexual harassment under the FHA or state laws.

Can an Invasion of Privacy Be Considered Sexual Harassment by Your Landlord?

A landlord must respect your privacy. He cannot barge into your apartment without warning unless there is an emergency. He cannot film you or take photos of you without your knowledge or consent.

Sometimes an invasion of privacy may also be a form of sexual harassment. If your landlord purposely barges into your apartment when you are in the shower or otherwise indisposed or indecent, it may constitute sexual harassment.

If your landlord spies on you inside your apartment at all hours of the day or night, then it is voyeurism. Voyeurism is a form of sexual harassment.

To learn more about how an invasion of privacy can be a form of landlord sexual harassment, speak with the Derek Smith Law Group’s experienced lawyers. Their talented attorneys can help you sort through your story to determine the details of your case.

Can Your Landlord Exchange Sex for Rent If You Cannot Afford to Pay?

Your landlord cannot request sexual acts from you in exchange for any real estate benefits. These benefits include offering free rent in exchange for sex.

Offering a tenant who cannot pay rent a chance to stay in the apartment if she sleeps with you is an example of quid pro quo sexual harassment.

In the same vein, a landlord cannot attempt to evict you for refusing his sexual advances.

How Do Landlords Retaliate Against Tenants Who Refuse Sexual Advances?

Landlords may try to retaliate against tenants for denying sexual advances. Some examples of retaliation may include:

  • Wrongful Eviction
  • Increased Rent
  • Forced Transfer to Another Unit
  • Increased Filing of Noise and Other Tenant Complaints
  • Denial of a Rental Unit

When a landlord enacts any of these options because you refused their sexual advances, they are retaliating against you. You have the right to fight retaliation in housing. The dedicated sexual harassment lawyers at the Derek Smith Law Group can help you get justice against your landlord for sexual harassment and retaliation.

What Evidence Should You Collect Before Filing a Complaint about Sexual Harassment in Housing?

If you plan on filing a lawsuit, you will need evidence to prove your claim. Collect as much evidence as possible both before and after consulting with an attorney. Some types of evidence may include:

  • Any emails or text messages relating to the harassment
  • Any witnesses to the sexual harassment
  • What occurred
  • Where it occurred
  • When it occurred
  • Any video or photo evidence
  • A copy of your lease
  • Copies of all canceled rent checks
  • Any medical records relating to the incident, if available
  • Any police records relating to the incident, if available
  • Any other evidence which may support your claim

What Is the Statute of Limitations to File Your Claim for Sexual Harassment in Housing?

The time limit to file a sexual harassment claim with the Department of Urban Housing and Development (HUD) is one year. HUD will investigate your claim and help you work towards mediation.

However, you have the right to file your claim in federal court as well. The time limit to file your claim in federal court is two years.

Each state law offers its own statute of limitations for sexual harassment in housing claims. Speak with a qualified lawyer in your state to learn more about your legal options.

How Can the Courts Help Victims of Sexual Harassment in Housing?

When you file your sexual harassment lawsuit, you want relief from the court. Several remedies may help you recover from the events that led you to court. Some remedies may include the following:

  • Financial recovery for medical expenses
  • Financial remedies for pain and suffering
  • Money to move to a new apartment
  • Covered moving expenses
  • Removal of a manager or tenant from the property

A sexual harassment lawyer can help you draft your demand for remedies for the court. They can ensure you ask for all remedies that will help you and future tenants live in a home free from sexual harassment.

When Will Your Sexual Harassment in Housing Case Settle?

A sexual harassment claim can take as little as a few months to as long as several years to settle. If you file a HUD claim, the organization attempts to mediate your case. As a result, the case may settle in under a year.

Sometimes, your lawyer can call your landlord and work out a settlement before a claim is filed in federal or state court. However, if your landlord refuses to settle, the case can last several years until reaching a final judgment.

A dedicated sexual harassment lawyer can negotiate a settlement with your landlord while demonstrating a willingness to see the trial through to a courtroom trial and final judgment. The goal is to reach a settlement as quickly as possible.

How Can a Sexual Harassment Lawyer Help My Case?

Sexual harassment laws vary from state to state. Determining your rights can become complicated, especially if you are not familiar with the different laws.

An experienced sexual harassment lawyer in your state can easily sort through the laws to determine which law best suits your claim. They can explain your rights and help you file your claim accordingly.

A proper advocate will help move your claim through the proper courts to get the best outcome for your case. Your attorney can even help you reach a settlement as quickly as possible. The goal would be to settle your claim quickly with the best possible remedies.

Contact the Sexual Harassment Lawyers at the Derek Smith Law Group Today!

Sexual harassment in housing is illegal. If you were victimized by your landlord, property manager, service vendor, employee, or another tenant through sexual harassment, please call the Derek Smith Law Group at 800.807.2209 to ask our talented lawyers your questions.

The experienced sexual harassment lawyers at the Derek Smith Law Group in New York City, Philadelphia, Miami, Los Angeles, and New Jersey believe you have the right to live in a home without the fear of sexual harassment. Our team can help you receive justice when battling landlord sexual harassment. Call 800.807.2209 for a free consultation.

Feel free to contact us if you have any other questions about sexual harassment in housing.

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