Fair Housing vs. Unfair Housing

Do you know the difference?

Knowing the difference between fair housing and unfair housing isn't as obvious as you might think. This blog aims to present a variety of important and interesting fair housing issues.

If you're an apartment professional, avoid costly mistakes by reading the stories of others who — even with good intentions — learned compliance lessons the hard way. (For the easy way, click here.)

If you live in an apartment, get familiar with your rights when it comes to housing discrimination, as well as your options for seeking justice.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Unwelcome Advances Lead to an Unwelcome Complaint

On January 29, 2009, the DOJ filed a fair housing complaint in a federal district court against both the landlord and manager of 11 single-family dwellings in Ypsilanti, Michigan, alleging "severe, pervasive, and unwelcome sexual harassment."

For at least the last few years, the manager allegedly made unwanted verbal sexual advances, entered female tenants' apartments without permission or notice, granted and denied tangible housing benefits based on sex, and took adverse action against female tenants when they refused or objected to his sexual advances. Although the landlord apparently didn't engage in such conduct, the DOJ believes he should also be held liable because the manager acted as his agent and because the landlord "knew or should have known" about the manager's conduct yet did nothing to stop it.

Assuming the landlord himself didn't commit sexual harassment, should he be held liable in this type of situation? If so, should it be to the same extent as the manager? Should the landlord's liability depend on whether or not he actually knew what the manager was doing?

What do you think?

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