TOPEKA — Owners of rental properties in Wichita are charged with housing discrimination for alleged sexual harassment of female tenants that included requests for sex in exchange for rent, federal officials said Thursday.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development charged landlord Thong Cao and his wife, who co-owned one of the properties, with housing discrimination. HUD accused Cao of making discriminatory statements based on one of the women’s race.
“Landlords who use their position to intimidate or harass residents or to attempt to trade sexual favors for rent violate the sanctity of a woman’s home, the place where she should feel the safest,” said Anna María Farías, HUD’s assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity.
HUD said in a statement the charge resulted from complaints filed by two female residents alleging Cao made unwanted sexual advances toward them, harassed them, made derogatory statements based on race and evicted them because they refused his advances.
HUD said the landlord subjected one of the women, who was working as a property manager, to a hostile environment, including entering her apartment uninvited, sexually harassing her and requesting sex in exchange for allowing her to stay in her unit.
The federal government alleged Cao told the woman he could be her “sugar daddy,” grabbed her buttocks and made comments about her body to others. On one occasion, she awoke to find him in her bedroom on her bed.
In addition, HUD said the landlord asked the second woman, when she was late paying a portion of the rent, to have sex with him instead of paying the $150 she owed. When she refused, HUD said, the landlord wrote her a three-day notice to vacate.