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Feds Say Landlords in New Jersey Taking Sexual Advantage of Distressed Tenants

NEWARK, N.J. – U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito is urging those who have experienced or have information about housing-related sexual harassment to report it to the Department of Justice.

Sexual harassment by landlords, property managers, maintenance workers, and others may violate the federal Fair Housing Act. As our nation faces unprecedented challenges amid the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. Attorney Carpenito has reaffirmed the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s commitment to continue to enforce this vital statute.

“Landlords and superintendents using the power they have over tenants to sexually harass or assault them is intolerable,” U.S. Attorney Carpenito said. “It is even more disturbing when landlords or others exploit our current national crisis by sexually harassing people in need of housing. This office will not hesitate to seek justice and hold wrongdoers accountable.”

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As a result of the COVID-19 public health crisis, many people have found themselves out of work, furloughed, or otherwise in dire financial straits. This has led many to seek abatements or suspensions of their rent or other housing accommodations. While many landlords and housing providers have responded positively, others have seen an opportunity to exploit the financially vulnerable through demands for sexual favors and other acts of sexual misconduct. This behavior is not only appalling, but illegal.

In January 2018, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey hosted one of the first community roundtable discussions to help launch the Justice Department’s Initiative to Combat Sexual Harassment in Housing. The initiative seeks to identify barriers to reporting sexual harassment in housing, increase awareness of its enforcement efforts and collaborate with federal, state, and local partners to increase reporting and help survivors quickly and easily connect with federal resources.

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To report sexual harassment in housing, contact the Justice Department at (800) 896-7743 or fairhousing@usdoj.gov or contact the U.S. Attorney’s Office at (855) 281-3339 or usanj.civilrightscomplaint@usdoj.gov. For more information about the Justice Department’s Initiative to Combat Sexual Harassment in Housing, please visit https://www.justice.gov/crt/sexual-harassment-housing-initiative .

 

Stock Photo by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash

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