With ‘stay-at-home’ orders in effect, many Americans are left without an income, leaving them with barely enough to get by as they struggle to take care of their families.
As a result, some landlords are taking advantage of the pandemic and are “soliciting sexual favors in lieu of rent payments.”
Khara Jabola-Carolus, executive director of the Hawaii State Commission on the Status of Women reports that her office, “has received more reports of landlords sexually harassing their tenants in the last two weeks than it had in the two years since she started working there,” according to Yahoo! News.
The harassment also includes cases of landlords, “offering to move in with tenants and sending sexually explicit photos to them after they communicated concerns about paying April rent.”
The reports are not large in number, however, there are many cases that go unreported.
"Landlord coercion has always been a reality, but we've never seen anything like this," Jabola-Carolus said. "The coronavirus creates the perfect conditions for landlords who want to do this because not only are people being instructed to stay home, but the virus has added to the economic stress with people losing their jobs, especially in Hawaii, which is driven by tourism."
Though around 22 million people filed first-time unemployment in America, some states have protections in place that would prevent eviction due to nonpayment of rent. Experts caution, however, that these policies may not be enough to keep low- and middle- income renters in their homes.