SICK landlords are soliciting sex in lieu of rent as they have been targeting vulnerable tenants who can’t pay during the coronavirus crisis.
As the United States unemployment rate continues to soar some landlords are reportedly taking advantage of their tenants during these hards times.
The Hawaii State Commission on the Status of Women has received 10 reports about nine landlords during the coronavirus pandemic, according to Khara Jabola-Carolus, the office’s executive director.
They have seen more cases of landlords sexually harassing their tenants over the course of two weeks than the past two years, Khara told NBC News.
She added: “Landlord coercion has always been a reality, but we’ve never seen anything like this.
“The coronavirus creates the perfect conditions for landlords who want to do this because not only are people being instructed to stay home, but the virus has added to the economic stress with people losing their jobs, especially in Hawaii, which is driven by tourism.”
Some landlords to live with tenants or sent sexually explicit photos after rent concerns were voiced, Khara explained.
More and more people are unable to pay rent as the US now has 22 million people unemployed and nearly 680,000 people in the US have been infected with COVID-19.
The spread of coronavirus has led the country to urge strict self-quarantine guidelines and shutdown businesses deemed non-essential.
Renee Williams, a senior staff attorney at the National Housing Law Project, predicts an an influx in sexual harassment reports over the next few months, NBC News reported.
Rene told the news outlet: “Landlords have all the leverage in the landlord-tenant relationship and in these types of situations, they especially prey on women who are vulnerable, who are housing insecure, have bad credit or who don’t have anywhere to go.
“We’ve already seen that the pandemic is exacerbating a lot of systemic issues and sexual harassment targeted at tenants by landlords is likely to be one of these issues.”
A guide on “What to do if your landlord pressures sex for rent during COVID-19” has since been created by Khara to help anyone in need.
She explained it’s “illegal and discriminatory” for landlords to prey on people’s economic troubles during the pandemic – or any other times, “whether d*** pics, touching, date requests, or “other arrangements.”
The federal Fair Housing Act and state landlord-tenant code considers the harassment a violation.
The Justice for Victims of Sex Trafficking Act of 2015 states it could even be argued as sex trafficking.
Khara directs victims to file complaints online with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (HUD FHEO).
The FHEO can be also contacted by calling 1-800-669-9777.
Sheryl Ring, the legal director of a legal aid and fair housing agency near Chicago, told Buzzfeed News that landlords who sexually harass tenants are often serial offenders.
They are “taking advantage of the situation to engage in misconduct they are generally already being investigated or caught for,” Ring said.
According to The National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC), 84 per cent of apartment households made a full or partial rent payment by April 12, however, those numbers aren’t expected to rise.
“Unfortunately, unemployment levels are continuing to rise and delays have been reported in getting assistance to residents, which could affect May’s rent levels,” NMHC president Doug Bibby said in a statement.
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Meanwhile, Americans may be able to get $2,000 a month during the coronavirus pandemic if a new bill introduced by Democrats passes Congress.
The Emergency Money for the People Act would give the stimulus to Americans over the age of 16 who make less than $130,000 for a minimum of six months.
The payments would continue until employment rates return to pre-coronavirus levels.
There are now 679,762 confirmed coronavirus cases across the US.
At least 35,705 people have died from coronavirus and more than 58,000 have recovered.
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