Archive for July, 2012

Why Being A Minneapolis Landlord Is A Bad Way To Get Dates

said on July 16th, 2012 categorized under: Tenants


post it noteA client recently had a vacancy in his Minneapolis duplex.

He ran a Craigslist ad, and when an attractive young woman showed up to look at the unit, he asked her out on a date.

As a woman, I have to tell you, his actions felt creepy; so much so, in fact, that I stopped to re-read the federal Fair Housing Act, as well as any state and local anti-discrimination acts.

While the Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination against tenants on the basis of their sex, it does not clearly prohibit landlord sexual harassment of tenants.

Is asking a prospective tenant out on a date sexual harassment?

It’s a matter of personal interpretation.

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, sexual harassment  can take two forms:

Quid Pro Quo sexual harassment – This occurs when the conditions or terms of a tenant’s residency are contingent upon sexual favors. For example, a landlord won’t make a repair unless a sexual favor is granted.

Hostile Environment – This occurs when there are constant verbal or physical advances by the landlord, or unwelcome sexual advances.

In order to prove sexual harassment, the tenant must prove the landlord intended to discriminate against her. The landlord may be able to rebut this claim by providing a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for the action taken (not renting to someone, not making a repair, etc.)

Next, the tenant must prove the advances were unwanted or unwelcome. Finally, the tenant must prove the landlord is liable for these actions.

If a tenant decides to pursue a federal claim against the duplex owner, they can file a claim with HUD. If the tenant prevails, they may win civil penalties of up to $10,000 for a first-time offender.

The tenant may also file a lawsuit against the offending  landlord, which may result in punitive damages and the recovery of attorney’s fees.

While asking a prospective tenant may or may not be sexual harassment, it’s always best to steer clear of any situation which may be considered discriminatory.