HUD Proposes Rule to Clarify Protections for Victims of Harassment in Housing
On Oct. 21, HUD announced a proposed rule that would formalize the standards for evaluating harassment claims in housing or housing-related transactions under the Fair Housing Act. According to HUD, sexual harassment is the most common type of harassment complaint it receives. Harassment in housing threatens a resident's sense of safety and privacy in her own home, and there can be little opportunity to escape such harassment unless the individual or family moves. 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 rule–“Quid Pro Quo and Hostile Environment Harassment and Liability for Discriminatory Housing Practices under the Fair Housing Act”—would 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 and would 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; and
- 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.
HUD has submitted its proposed rule for publication in the Federal Register. The general public will have 60 days from the date of publication to submit comments on the proposed rule. HUD encourages interested persons to submit comments electronically through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov during the public comment period.