When my boyfriend and I broke up, he moved out of our two-bedroom residence. Oddly sufficient, it was a brief breakup. We labored issues out and received again collectively three weeks later. But he had already leased a one-bedroom residence and couldn’t transfer again in with me.
I wasn’t capable of afford the lease in my present place on my own, so I made a decision to search for someplace I may afford as a substitute of compressing me and my son into my boyfriend’s new one-bedroom unit. Plus, I assumed it might be more healthy for our relationship if I nonetheless had slightly house and independence.
And after I say slightly house, I do imply slightly. One Sunday afternoon after I was hanging out at his new place, I walked outdoors to see that the entrance door of the residence subsequent to his was open. It was a sq. four-unit constructing with a yellow brick exterior and a well-manicured garden.
I walked into the small entryway to see that the flooring of the underside unit had been being refinished. I discovered a gentleman in his late 30s standing within the doorway, speaking to the 2 males who had been engaged on the ground inside.
His identify was Chris. He was the positive proprietor of the institution and, sure, the empty residence was obtainable. We talked for some time about my state of affairs (divorced, one small kiddo, boyfriend subsequent door). He was tremendous well mannered and took the time to reply all my questions.
Chris spent lots of time chatting with me that day, truly. I discovered he had younger sons of his personal and that he owned properties throughout city. He appeared form and energetic, and I assumed he was glad to discover a potential new tenant so rapidly after the final one moved out.
He gave me an utility, and I used to be capable of fill it out and provides it again to him earlier than he was accomplished with the flooring and able to go away for the day.
It appeared like I’d stumbled upon the correct place at simply the correct time.
Preying On a Single Mom With Financial Hardships
I moved within the first day of the subsequent month. The lease was $520 for the one-bedroom. Slightly larger than the place I’d lived in immediately after my divorce, however a fairly whole lot for the neighborhood I used to be in.
I met with Chris once more briefly in my residence to provide him the primary and final month’s deposit, and to get the keys to my new place. He left his data on the desk for the place I may mail my lease verify every month or name him if I had any points.
Again, he was fairly chatty with me, however nothing appeared off about our dialog.
I used to be pleased with the brand new place, however some issues weren’t ultimate — like the truth that I didn’t have a bed room. I gave my son the bed room so he may have his personal house to play and retailer his toys. For my house, I arrange my mattress and my dresser within the breakfast nook throughout from the kitchen. I used to be simply glad I didn’t must sleep in my lounge at that time.
And in fact, I frightened that cash was tighter now that I had just one revenue to make use of for lease, payments, and meals. I used to be already on meals stamps, and paying the payments was a wrestle even supposing I labored at a daycare full time and at a restaurant on the weekends.
My boyfriend was all the time prepared to assist nevertheless he may, however his funds weren’t actually any higher than mine. We had been saving cash by dwelling collectively earlier than, and now we needed to alter.
I used to be decided to remain on high of my grownup shit and make issues work. I felt lucky to be in a secure constructing, with a seemingly good property supervisor who cared about sustaining issues.
My first inclination that one thing was amiss with my landlord got here 4 weeks later after I was on the brink of mail out the subsequent month’s lease.
I had misplaced his deal with, however I had his telephone quantity saved. I texted him and requested for the deal with once more, and he promptly messaged me again the data.
Then got here a second textual content.
I’m on the bar down the road having a beer. Want to hitch?
I knew the place he was speaking about. I had by no means been, however it was inside strolling distance, so I used to be acquainted with it.
It appeared slightly unusual, seeing as he knew I had a boyfriend. But I talked myself out of being weirded out. I assumed I remembered him telling me he was married. And it was early within the night. So he was most likely simply grabbing a fast drink on the finish of a protracted day and needed to increase an invitation since I’d contacted him at that very second.
Innocent, I assumed.
I can’t, I replied. I’ve my kiddo tonight. Thanks although!
My son was truly together with his dad that evening. But I felt the necessity to seize the excuse. I needed to keep away from any type of awkwardness in any respect prices. So as a substitute of being trustworthy and saying one thing like, “I don’t feel comfortable coming out to meet you for a drink,” I lied to save lots of his emotions.
I felt like a coward. But this was my determination. I went with the least uncomfortable choice for me.
The subsequent textual content from him, nevertheless, raised the little hairs on the again of my neck.
You know, I’ve a take care of certainly one of my different tenants. She and I get collectively once in a while. You and I may work one thing like that out.
I stared at my telephone, eyes vast.
“What?” I mentioned to the empty room, genuinely perplexed.
It’s my typical response to one thing like this. If I’m ever hit on, or on this case, inappropriately propositioned, I don’t actually imagine it’s taking place at first. I robotically assume I should be misunderstanding the state of affairs. I’m simply completely clueless about it.
Even although the warning sirens sounded at the back of my thoughts, I requested for a proof anyway. I should be lacking one thing.
A deal? What do you imply?
Like, she does me a favor, he replied. Then I do her a favor with the lease. You know what I imply. 🙂
He typed out slightly smile emoji. Keeping the temper mild, I suppose.
I paced my residence, questioning how the hell I used to be supposed to answer a proposition for intercourse from the man who was answerable for holding a roof over mine and my son’s heads.
You’re speaking free lease for me…if I sleep with you? I requested.
You received it. It’s no stress. Just one thing I assumed I’d float on the market. 😉
An Offer I Was Afraid to Refuse — Almost
It took me some time to reply. I thought of turning off my telephone and by no means answering. If I noticed him once more, I’d simply fake it didn’t occur. Then I thought of telling him off. I thought of telling him if he ever approached me like that once more, I’d go to…
This man was unbiased. He owned the buildings himself. He was his personal supervisor, his personal boss, his personal HR division.
And for the briefest of moments, I truly puzzled if I wanted to say sure. I puzzled if saying no may deliver penalties.
Sure, he was saying “no pressure,” however what if a rejection from me meant a better lease down the road? Or even eviction? What if he used his place of energy to do no matter he may to coerce me into intercourse?
He knew all of my data. My age (25 on the time), my divorce standing, my revenue. He knew I used to be a single mother who was barely placing meals on the desk.
He knew precisely what he was doing.
After a couple of half-hour of fretting and soul looking, I nervously texted him again.
Nope, I’m good. Boyfriend, keep in mind?
You Have Somewhere to Turn
So I pretended to be informal. I pretended like nothing bothered me about this anxiety-inducing alternate.
Fortunately, I didn’t see Chris all that usually. He had a number of properties to take care of — which I suppose, wanting again on our chats, was purported to be this large deal that he hoped would impress me.
If I did run into him or want one thing mounted, we acted just like the proposition by no means occurred. I stayed on the residence for the complete 12 months of my lease and didn’t have one other subject with him.
But it nonetheless weirded me out. Knowing that he had put that on the desk. Knowing that, if he felt as much as it, he may strive his luck once more. Once shortly I’d give it some thought and fear that if he did strive once more, he may be extra decided and/or aggressive the subsequent time.
But fortunately for me, that one time actually was the tip of it.
That’s not the case for each tenant, sadly. There are landlords on the market now, profiting from the rampant unemployment and financial disaster that we’ve seen with the pandemic, preying on girls who worry they’ve nowhere else to show.
Some girls find yourself feeling like they don’t have a selection. Like they have to conform to maintain themselves or their youngsters off the streets.
“We have seen an uptick in sexual harassment,” says Sheryl Ring, the authorized director at Open Communities, a authorized support and honest housing company simply north of Chicago. “Since this started, they [landlords] have been taking advantage of the financial hardships many of their tenants have in order to coerce them into a sex-for-rent agreement — which is absolutely illegal.”
I didn’t know the place to show when it occurred to me years in the past. But for many who could also be coping with this type of merciless, abusive, and unlawful state of affairs proper now, there are sources obtainable to you.
You can contact authorized support in your county. Or, you possibly can file a grievance in opposition to your housing supplier with the Department of Housing and Urban Development at 1–800–669–9777.
You also can name the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1–800–656–467 to get counseling concerning the sexual harassment you’ve skilled.
This article first appeared on Medium.