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Press Release

U.S. Attorney Announces Efforts To Combat Sexual Harassment In Housing During COVID-19 Crisis

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of California

SAN FRANCISCO – Today U.S. Attorney David L. Anderson announced that the Department of Justice has devoted law enforcement resources to address housing-related sexual harassment resulting from the current COVID-19 crisis. The Department of Justice remains vigilant in investigating and prosecuting wrongdoing related to the pandemic, including sexual harassment by landlords, property managers, maintenance workers, loan officers or other people who have control over housing.

U.S. Attorney Anderson made the announcement to remind the public that sexual harassment in housing will not be tolerated and that the Department of Justice is focused on addressing this problem.

“Sexual misconduct in housing and rental situations can be just as pernicious as harassment in the workplace,” U.S. Attorney Anderson said. “Landlords and superintendents who try to capitalize on the current crisis by sexually harassing people in need of housing should know that reports of misconduct will be investigated and pursued.”

As the country adopts drastic measures to slow the spread of COVID-19, many Americans have lost their jobs and many more have seen their wages curtailed. These losses have forced many to seek abatements or suspensions of their rent. Many landlords have responded to these circumstances with understanding and care, trying to work with their tenants to weather the current crisis. There have been reports, however, of other landlords who have responded to requests to defer rent payments with demands for sexual favors and other acts of unwelcome sexual conduct. Such behavior is illegal.

The Department of Justice remains remaining vigilant in investigating and prosecuting wrongdoing related to the pandemic. To address predatory practices by unscrupulous landlords, Attorney General Barr directed Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, Eric Dreiband, and Christina Nolan, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Vermont to oversee and coordinate U.S. Attorneys’ Offices efforts to devote all necessary resources to investigate reports of housing-related sexual harassment resulting from the current crisis.

If you think you are a victim of sexual harassment by a landlord or any other person who has control over housing, resulting from the COVID-19 crisis, you can report that harassment to:

  • Sexual Harassment in Housing Initiative at 1-844-380-6178
  • Email:
  • Local authorities

For more information about the Department of Justice’s efforts to combat housing-related sexual harassment visit or the Spanish language webpage:

For more information regarding sexual harassment in housing and how to report it, please visit

Updated April 30, 2020

Civil Rights