Sex and Sexual Harassment

The Fair Housing Act protects individuals from discrimination in housing on the basis of sex. This means that you can't be treated differently in housing based on the fact that you are male or female. It also includes protection from sexual harassment in housing; protection for victims of domestic violence; and protection for gender identity. Even if the owner does not intend for a policy to treat women differently, policies that have a discriminatory effect on women may also violate the law. Both intentions and effects matter in determining whether a property owner's actions are discriminatory and illegal.

Both sexes are equally protected under the law. One of the earliest fair housing cases heard before a HUD Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) was a complaint by a man who had been denied the opportunity to rent a house because the landlord said "that he did not want to rent to males because his experience was that they did not keep a clean house."

There have been numerous cases brought to protect women from sexual harassment by their landlords or managers.

In 2011, HUD issued a charge against a lender for refusing to make a loan to a pregnant female until she had her baby and returned from maternity leave. Read HUD Press Release.

Discrimination based on sex may also include protections for victims of domestic violence. Discrimination may include eviction, denial of housing, or termination of assistance on the basis of violence perpetrated by the accuser. Statistics show that women are overwhelmingly the victims of domestic violence. The ACLU Women's Rights Project settled a case in 2008 between a domestic violence survivor, a private housing complex and a property management company that offers victims of domestic violence, stalking, date rape and sexual assault far reaching protections from eviction and discrimination. Under that settlement, a Detroit management company will not evict or discriminate against tenants because they have been the victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault or stalking, whether or not the abuser is residing in the tenant's household. The property management company will also offer early lease termination and relocation to tenants who have been the victims of such abuse and need to leave their homes to ensure their safety. Read more info from the ACLU.

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