HUD Issues Guidance on the Fair Housing Act and Sexual Harrassment

Dec. 2008 – WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development today issued guidance under the Fair Housing Act clarifying what constitutes sexual harassment and the legal remedies available to victims of sexual harassment in housing. HUD’s guidance makes clear that as long as an individual demonstrates that the harassment was unwelcome, he or she may file a claim regardless of whether they experienced the loss of a housing opportunity or tangible economic loss.

HUD’s guidance also explains that property owners and property managers have a duty to prevent or stop sexual harassment committed by employees, agents, or contractors and that they may be liable for acts committed by such persons. For example, if an apartment manager authorizes a maintenance worker to enter a tenant’s home to make a repair, and the maintenance worker sexually harasses the tenant, the management company may be held vicariously liable for the maintenance worker’s actions.

“Individuals have the right to housing without being subjected to sexual harassment,” said Kim Kendrick, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “This guidance lets individuals know that they do not have to tolerate sexual harassment in housing and advises landlords of the consequences of failing to abide by the law.”

The guidance is available at FHEO and its partners in the Fair Housing Assistance Program investigate more than 10,000 housing complaints annually. People who believe they are the victims of housing discrimination should contact HUD at (800) 669-9777 (voice), (800) 927-9275 (TTY). Additional information is available at Stay on top of the most up-to-date new regarding the Fair Housing Act by signing up for the FHEO RSS Feed.