U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder Warns Against Predatory Practices Related to Covid-19
(STL.News) – U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder issued a warning today against predatory practices related to COVID-19 and housing. In a recent memorandum, Attorney General William Barr instructed every U.S. Attorney across the country to deploy all available enforcement tools against anyone who tries to capitalize on the current crisis by sexually harassing people in need of housing.
“It’s disturbing to hear that the Department of Justice is receiving reports of landlords exploiting our current national crisis by sexually harassing people in need of housing,” said U.S. Attorney Schroder. “This despicable behavior is illegal, and will be enforced under federal laws. If such reports are received in Alaska, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, together with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, stands ready to hold these predatory landlords accountable.”
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, with reports that nearly one third of Americans were unable to pay their April rent at the beginning of the month.
Many landlords responded to these circumstances with understanding and care, trying to work with their tenants to weather the current crisis. There have been reports across the country, 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.