Sexual Harassment by Your Landlord

Fair Housing Laws

The Federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination against individuals based on race, color religion, national origin, sex, familial status, and disability.

Sexual harassment is discrimination under fair housing laws.

Fair housing laws also make it illegal to coerce, intimidate, threaten or interfere with a person seeking to exercise rights under the Fair Housing Act.

It is illegal for your landlord to try to evict you  or raise your rent for reporting sexual harassment.

What is Sexual Harassment?

There are generally two types of sexual harassment: Quid Pro Quo and Hostile Environment. Often, victims of sexual harassment suffer from both.

(1) Quid Pro Quo, or "This for That," harassment is when a housing provider asks for sex or sexual favors to avoid eviction or in exchange for free rent, repairs, excused late payments or fees, etc.

(2) A Hostile Environment is when a housing provider creates a threatening or uncomfortable environment because of unwanted sexual behavior. Examples include: when your landlord enters your unit without permission, makes unwanted sexual advances or comments, touches you, or threatens to evict you if you turn down his sexual advances.

Sexual harassment can come from a landlord, owner, manager, employee, or neighbor. It does not matter if the harasser is male or female.

How to Stop Sexual Harassment

What to do if you are the victim of sexual harassment in your housing:

  • Contact your local sexual assault/domestic violence agency.
  • Keep a journal of incidents of sexual harassment.
  • Keep any documents related to the sexual harassment.
  • Do not wait until an eviction is filed to report sexual harassment by your landlord.

If your landlord has "ideas" about repairing your unit, collecting "rent," or "lending a hand," we have some ideas too.

Hit your landlord where it hurts and contact the Fair Housing Project.

The Fair Housing Project

West Tennessee Legal Services is available to provide information concerning a person's rights under the Federal Fair Housing Act. If you believe you are a victim of discrimination in housing, contact us at 800.372.8346 or 731.423.0616 for assistance. When necessary, staff can assist you in filing a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) or other appropriate administrative or judicial bodies.

If you believe that you have been discriminated against in a housing situation, please fill out and return the reply card attached to this brochure. A housing counselor will discuss the situation with you and help you to decide what to do next. Your response to us will be kept confidential.

"The work that provided the basis for this publication was supported by funding under a grant with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The substance and findings of the work are dedicated to the public. The author and publisher are solely responsible for the accuracy of the statements and interpretations contained in this publication: Such interpretations do not necessarily reflect the views of the Federal Government."

For more information or to apply for assistance:

West Tennessee Legal Services

Toll Free: 1-800-372-8346 ext. 1250

Fax: 731-423-2600


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