People across the world are experiencing the impact of the coronavirus crisis on their finances, as businesses and governments struggle to respond to the pandemic.
According to a report by BuzzFeed News some landlords are using the crisis as an opportunity to sexually harass renters, even asking for sex in exchange for rent.
Khara Jabola-Carolus, executive director of Hawaii State Commission on the Status of Women, told BuzzFeed:
The conditions are ripe for sexual exploitation.
Disturbingly, she said her commission received more reports of cases in two days than it has in the last two years.
In response, Jabola-Carolus published an online guide for women responding to sexual harassment. In this medium post she wrote that her commission has seen a spike in reports of landlords pressuring tenants who are struggling to pay rent into “arrangements”.
Sheryl Ring, the legal director at Open Communities, a legal aid and fair housing agency, told BuzzFeed:
We have seen an uptick in sexual harassment.
Since this started, they [landlords] have been taking advantage of the financial hardships many of their tenants have in order to coerce their tenants into a sex-for-rent agreement — which is absolutely illegal.
Jabola-Carolus also wrote in her guide that landlords conducting themselves in this manner in America is a “violation of the federal Fair Housing Act and state landlord-tenant code” and provided advice for people who are impacted.
Ring said landlords who sexually harass tenants are often repeat offenders, so it's best to keep a record of their behaviour and tell someone you trust about it, because the law is on your side.
In the UK, the government implemented a three-month ban on evictions during the coronavirus crisis. In America there has been no federal ban on evictions, and nearly a third of Americans did not pay their April rent within the first five days of the month.