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How a Utah renter fought back after being asked for sex to forgive overdue rent

KUTV Salt Lake City logo KUTV Salt Lake City 4/22/2021 Jeremy Harris, KUTV
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Federal housing authorities reached a settlement between a renter in Ogden and a landlord who is accused of asking her for sexual favors in exchange for rent.

Caption: KUTV: Jeremy Harris reports{{ }}

The woman, who asked to not be identified, says she began receiving pressure from the landlord after losing her job during the pandemic last summer.

“It doesn’t make you feel good about yourself that he puts you off as a prostitute or something,” the victim said.

She filed a complaint under the Fair Housing Office and contacted Utah attorney Ron Kramer.

What is illegal is asking for sexual favors, that crosses the line. He started getting pretty graphic with her in terms of what he wanted to do,” Kramer told 2News. "The landlord would also creep around her rental house, showing up at odd times, including early in the morning, and even knocking on his tenant’s window in an effort to see her. During this time, our client told him she wanted to keep the relationship landlord-tenant only.” 

The terms of the settlement are confidential, but Kramer says it will require the landlord to write off past due rent and stop the eviction. He’ll also be required to have a Housing and Urban Development training and will have oversight if he manages properties in the future.

a person sitting in a room © Provided by KUTV Salt Lake City

“If the case had not resolved, the landlord would have evicted our client, as the settlement happened only a couple days before the sheriff was due to arrive and forcibly evict her from her rental house,” Kramer said.

Kramer added that the victim’s text message exchange with the landlord provided crucial evidence in the case.

The victim provided copies of those texts to 2News:

“Sorry for being so weird about sex with you,” one text message read. “I’ll be honest, sex life for me is boring and sucks. I was just looking for some excitement and you do look hot. Never know where things can go. Have a good night. Please let me know if there is an issue with rent on the 5th.”

text © Provided by KUTV Salt Lake City

The victim says she is now living in temporary housing while she figures out a new living situation for her family.

“At the end of the day, a vulnerable tenant should not feel pressured to give in to their landlord’s advances just to keep them and their family from experiencing what is usually an incredibly disruptive eviction process. It’s wrong and there are laws that should keep this from happening,” Kramer said.

You can find information about the Fair Housing Act and file a complaint on HUD’s website.

2News previously covered a warning from the Utah Attorney General’s Office during the pandemic about landlords pressuring renters for sex. Complaints can also be submitted to the Utah AG’s office here. 

In Utah, tenants who are struggling to pay rent can call 211 to be connected with housing resources.

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