HUD Charges Kansas Property Owners with Housing Discrimination After Alleged Sexual Harassment of Two Female Tenants

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced it is charging the owner and landlord of several rental properties in Wichita, Kansas, and his wife, who co-owned one of the properties, with housing discrimination after the landlord allegedly sexually harassed two female tenants at his properties. HUD’s charge further alleges that he also made discriminatory statements based on one of the women’s race. Read HUD’s charge here.

The Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to discriminate against individuals on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, familial status, or disability. Sexual harassment is a form of illegal sex discrimination.

“Landlords who use their position to intimidate or harass residents or to attempt to trade sexual favors for rent violate the sanctity of a woman’s home, the place where she should feel the safest,” said Anna María Farías, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “HUD is committed to protecting the housing rights of those who are sexually harassed and will continue to take action any time housing providers violate those rights.”

The charge is the result of complaints filed by two female residents alleging that the landlord made unwanted sexual advances toward them, harassed them, made derogatory statements based on race, and evicted them because they refused his advances.

HUD’s charge alleges that the landlord subjected one of the women, who was working as a property manager, to a hostile environment, including entering her apartment uninvited, sexually harassing her, and requesting sex in exchange for allowing her to stay in her unit.  The charge also alleges that the landlord told her that he could be her “sugar daddy,” grabbed her buttocks, and made comments about her body to others. On one occasion she awoke to find him in her bedroom on her bed.

The charge further alleges that the landlord subjected a second woman to a hostile environment by making numerous requests for sex when he picked up her rent payments. Once, when she was late paying a portion of her rent, the landlord allegedly asked her if she wanted to have sex with him instead of paying the $150 she owed. When she refused the offer, the landlord allegedly became very upset and immediately wrote her a 3-day notice to vacate.

The charge will be heard by a United States Administrative Law Judge unless any party elects for the case to be heard in federal court.  If the administrative law judge finds after a hearing that discrimination has occurred, he may award damages to the complainants for their loss as a result of the discrimination. The judge may also order injunctive relief and other equitable relief, as well as payment of attorney fees. In addition, the judge may impose civil penalties in order to vindicate the public interest.