THE FAIR HOUSING ACT OFFERS PROTECTION FROM HARASSMENT IN YOUR HOME AND NEIGHBORHOOD
“One's home is a place of privacy, security, and refuge (or should be), and harassment that occurs in or around one's home can be far more intrusive, violative and threatening than harassment in the more public environment of one's work place. Consistent with this reality, the Supreme Court has recognized that individuals have heightened expectations of privacy within the home” – HUD Rule 81 FR 63054, 9/14/16
In the current political climate, HOME recognizes that homes and neighborhoods may now, unfortunately, become places of harassment. Virginia Fair Housing Law makes harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, disability, familial status, and/or elderliness illegal. If you are an immigrant or refugee and unsure of your Fair Housing rights, please click here for more information.
Such harassment may involve interference, coercion, threats, and/or intimidation. “Interference” refers to anything that hampers residents’ enjoyment of their home to a reasonable standard. Frequency and severity may be factors in determining whether such an action falls under harassment. This includes conduct designed to drive residents from their homes because of their membership in a protected class.
For an action to be considered harassment, it does NOT require a show of force or violence and CAN be based on oral statements.
Remember that you must suspect that the harassment is occurring because of your membership in one of the Fair Housing Act’s protected classes. Even if you’re not sure, call HOME at 804-354-0641 or email us and let us know about your experience.
Everyone deserves a harassment and discrimination-free home.
I’m worried about retaliation or further harassment if I call HOME.
The Fair Housing Act also protects anyone who is harassed for reporting discriminatory harassment in housing. If this is a concern for you, HOME will ensure you are protected. HOME may be able to investigate allegations of discrimination even if you are unwilling to come forward publicly.
I have owned and lived in my own home for years. I thought the Fair Housing Act only applied if I was in the process of buying or renting a home.
The Fair Housing Act provides protections for “the continued use of privileges, services, or facilities associated with housing, and the ‘exercise or enjoyment’ of housing indicates circumstances in which residents – as opposed to just applicants – benefit from the Act’s protections throughout their residency.” (HUD) In other words, if you’ve been harassed in your home because of your membership in a protected class, regardless of whether you own or rent, you’re covered by the Fair Housing Act.
Am I protected if I identify as LGBTQ?
If you feel you have been harassed in your home because you identify as LGBTQ, HOME wants to hear from you. “Sex” is a protected class under the Fair Housing Act. HUD and courts have ruled that discrimination based on gender identity is sex discrimination. Sexual orientation, however, is not a protected class under the federal Fair Housing Act or Virginia Fair Housing Law. We are working to change that. Regardless of a formalized protection, HOME would like to hear from you.
My landlord/maintenance worker/neighbor is sexually harassing me
HUD guidance also protects residents from “quid pro quo” or “this for that” harassment. A landlord, maintenance worker, leasing agent, or contractor for a property management company cannot require sexual acts in exchange for repairs, reduced rent, or other amenities. Even if they do not explicitly ask for anything, you are protected from otherwise repeated, intrusive, or unannounced inspections, as well as vocal sexual harassment. Check out HOME’s flyer and call HOME if you believe you are being sexually harassed in your residence or neighborhood.
You can download the above information in PDF with this flyer.
If you or a loved one are facing or have faced targeted harassment in your home, please call us at 804-354-0641 or email us. Everyone deserves a harassment and discrimination-free home.