Desperate times call for desperate measures. And with the Fed in the process of destroying the monetary system as we know, we can’t say we were surprised to hear that some landlords are attempting to use the age-old system of barter to accept payments.
The problem? They’re reportedly asking their broke tenants for sex, according to BuzzFeed.
Citing the Hawaii State Commission on the Status of Women, the report details several complaints of sexual harassment since the coronavirus outbreak began.
One woman says when she texted her landlord about a more affordable property after being unable to pay her April rent, “he responded with a dick pic.” A different woman claimed that her landlord told her she could come over and “spoon him” instead of paying her April rent.
Khara Jabola-Carolus, the executive director of the commission said: “We’ve received more cases at our office in the last two days than we have in the last two years.”
She thinks the cases are becoming more egregious as tenants become unemployed, broke and more vulnerable. “Of course that’s not the root cause of why it’s happening, but it makes it easier because now [landlords] have access to people at their fingertips,” she said.
Sheryl Ring, the legal director at Open Communities, a legal aid and fair housing agency just north of Chicago said: “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.”
She says sexual harassment complaints related to housing are up threefold in the last month. Ring was already working on six cases before the epidemic began and says that women of color and trans women are the most likely to be targeted. Ring advises women not to give in to trying to negotiate with landlords at all if the topic comes up.
“You can’t really negotiate how much illegality the landlord is willing to do,” she said. “We’ve heard some landlords are attempting to use the situation where a tenant falls behind to pressure a tenant into exchanging sex for rent,” she continued.
“It’s important to know what your rights are as quickly as possible. Even now, just because courts are closed to most things, it doesn’t mean you do not have recourse right now and can’t be protected,” Ring concluded.
“The conditions are ripe for sexual exploitation,” said Jabola-Carolus, noting that since Hawaii’s tourism industry has fallen apart, many immigrant and native Hawaiians are out of work.
Jabola-Carolus concluded: “The power dynamic goes without saying. All of us feel intimidated by our landlords because shelter is so critical.”