Ohio Landlord fined $200,000 for forcing female tenants into sex for rent schemes

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Published Jun 25, 2024 at 12:57 PM

Reading time: 2 minutes

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Ohio landlord Joseph Pedaline has been hit with nearly $199,000 in penalties for allegedly subjecting multiple female tenants to a horrifying pattern of sexual harassment. Pedaline is accused of making unwelcome sexual comments, intruding into tenants’ homes without their consent, and inappropriately touching them, creating a climate of fear and exploitation in his properties.

The horrific accusations also extend beyond inappropriate comments and physical contact. According to The Independent, Pedaline reportedly offered to excuse late or unpaid rent in exchange for sexual acts. Furthermore, the landlord allegedly took adverse housing-related actions against tenants who refused his advances.

These actions were described as retaliatory and included evictions or other punitive measures. The US Department of Justice (DOJ) confirmed these allegations, highlighting a pattern of behaviour that violated the Fair Housing Act.

Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division emphasised the severity of Pedaline’s actions: “No one should ever have to fear sexual harassment when they sign a lease, pay their rent, or simply spend time in their home. Landlords who sexually harass tenants violate the Fair Housing Act, and the Justice Department will continue to hold landlords accountable for this egregious conduct.”

Pedaline and YLP LLC, the company that owned and managed the residential rental properties in Youngstown, Ohio, have agreed to a settlement to resolve the lawsuit brought by the DOJ. The settlement requires them to pay a total of $199,000. This amount includes $189,000 to compensate former tenants harmed by Pedaline’s conduct and a $10,000 civil penalty to the federal government.

Shockingly, the DOJ’s complaint revealed that Pedaline’s predatory conduct spanned over a decade, with the landlord preying on multiple women from 2009 to 2020. The settlement now forces Pedaline and YLP LLC to take urgent measures to repair the credit of ruthlessly evicted tenants after resisting Pedaline’s advances.

As part of the consent decree, Pedaline is permanently barred from renting the property again. This ban is a significant measure to prevent further misconduct and protect future tenants from similar abuse.

US Attorney Rebecca C. Lutzko for the Northern District of Ohio underscored the broader implications of this case: “This resolution should serve as a strong reminder to all landlords that they must comply with all aspects of the Fair Housing Act and may not engage in discriminatory behaviour that violates the security, safety, and wellbeing of their tenants.”

Research conducted by Generation Rent and Mumsnet has revealed a shocking prevalence of predatory behaviour by unscrupulous landlords and letting agents towards tenants in the private rented sector. According to a recent survey, over 200,000 female private renters could be offered discounted rent in exchange for sexual acts at some point in their lives.

Generation Rent estimates that as many as 200,043 female private renters may have been propositioned with free or discounted rent in return for sexual favours. Alarmingly, 1 in 10 women with incomes less than £20,000 reported experiencing such propositions. Testimonies from the survey reveal that vulnerable women, particularly those who are financially insecure, are at the highest risk of being targeted by predators for ‘sex for rent’ schemes.

While the settlement against Pedaline provides some relief to his victims, it also raises awareness about the persistent issue of sexual harassment in rental housing. This case, alongside the broader research findings, underscores the urgent need for stronger protections for tenants.

As of now, the DOJ has encouraged other individuals who may have been victims of sexual harassment at rental properties owned or managed by Joseph Pedaline or YLP LLC to come forward.

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