Resident Bullying and Fair Housing - What You Need to Know - The Fair Housing Institute, Inc.

Resident Bullying and Fair Housing – What You Need to Know

Resident bullying can create some very uncomfortable situations. But what responsibility do you have as a housing provider or staff member? What do you need to know when it comes to fair housing and bullying?

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Resident Bullying and Fair Housing - What You Need to Know

Bullying and harassment can look very much the same on the surface. A not-so-nice person targets another and tries to intimidate or embarrass them. As awkward as it might be to witness this, staff cannot just ignore it, especially if that bullying or harassment is based on another person’s protected class. From a legal standpoint, not only is the bully in violation of their lease they are also in violation of the Fair Housing Act.

What are the responsibilities of staff if they witness one resident bullying or harassing another resident?

All staff needs to be trained that if at any time they witness one resident bullying or harassing another resident it must be reported to management immediately. It is not up to them to decide or figure out if the situation they observed was just one resident being mean or hurtful or if the illegal harassment was based on the protected category of the other resident. Staff should be trained to report in detail what they saw regarding how one resident’s actions interfered with another resident’s ability to live on that property in a peaceful manner.

Management then needs to thoroughly document the incident and launch an investigation. If harassment is established, then lease action needs to be taken against the perpetrator. A lease violation notice or even possibly a lease termination depending on the severity of the circumstances.

What are the potential risks to the housing provider if the staff fails to address a resident who is a bully or a harasser?

Simply put, you are leaving yourself exposed to a costly court case. Suppose it is established that the harassment that took place was based on a protected category and the property did nothing. In that case, the victimized resident has a cause of action against both the harasser and the housing provider. It is illegal for one resident to harass another and for a housing provider to do nothing about it. Keep in mind that the housing provider will more than likely be the focus of the legal action due to the fact that they generally have deeper pockets than an individual would.

Resident Bullying and Harassment – Final Takeaway

A best practice for every housing provider is to have a zero-tolerance policy regarding bullying or harassment. Regardless of why one tenant is bullying another, action needs to be taken to ensure that every resident’s right to peaceful living is upheld. Reputation counts a lot, and people are ready to share their experiences with the whole world. What will your property be recognized for?


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