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HUD Issues Proposed Rule to Protect Housing Harassment Victims

writing-on-paperHUD announced Wednesday that it is issuing a proposed rule to protect consumers being harassed in the housing market. The newly proposed rule would formalize standards to bring about claims under the Fair Housing Act.

The rule, also known as "Quid Pro Quo and Hostile Environment Harassment and Liability for Discriminatory Housing Practices under the Fair Housing Act,” was published in the Federal Register today for public comment.

According to the announcement, although no formal rule was in place prior to this, HUD and the courts have upheld that "harassment in housing or housing-related transactions on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, and familial status is prohibited under the Fair Housing Act."

“A home should be a refuge where every woman and man deserves to live without the threat of violence or harassment. The rule HUD is proposing is designed to better protect victims of harassment by offering greater clarity for how to handle a claim against an abuser,” said Julián Castro, HUD secretary.

The proposed rule will cover both private and publicly assisted housing and specifies how claims of “hostile environment” and “quid pro quo” harassment would be evaluated among victims.

HUD also noted that sexual harassment is the most common form of harassment complaint they receive.

"Harassment in housing threatens a resident’s sense of safety and privacy in their own home, and there can be little opportunity to escape such harassment unless the individual or family moves." -HUD

"In HUD’s experience enforcing the Fair Housing Act, low-income women, often racial and ethnic minorities and persons with disabilities, may be particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment in housing."

The general public will have 60 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register to comment on the rule, HUD stated.

HUD’s proposed rule will:

  • Formalize uniform standards for evaluating claims of hostile environment and quid pro quo harassment in the housing context:
  • Hostile Environment Harassment involves subjecting a person to unwelcome conduct that is sufficiently severe or pervasive such that it interferes with or deprives the person the right to use and enjoy the housing.
  • Quid Pro Quo Harassment involves subjecting a person to an unwelcome request or demand and making submission to the request or demand a condition related to the person’s housing.
  • Clarify when housing providers and other covered entities or individuals may be held directly or vicariously liable under the Fair Housing Act for illegal harassment or other discriminatory housing practices.

Click here to view the complete proposed rule.

About Author: Xhevrije West

Xhevrije West is a writer and editor based in Dallas, Texas. She has worked for a number of publications including The Syracuse New Times, Dallas Flow Magazine, and Bellwethr Magazine. She completed her Bachelors at Alcorn State University and went on to complete her Masters at Syracuse University.

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