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What can be done about a coerced tenancy by an employer in an uninhabitable house rented by room to male employees except for myself and my husband, making me the only woman in site forced to share with three unrelated adult males against occupancy?

Asked by user in Texas.

My husband and I are the only legal leaseholders, only citizens/documented, and fought with the landlord (also the employer) in retaliation and failure to relocate per contract 520 days ago. Now back to the original rental. It is still uninhabitable. The landlord failed to provide me reasonable security after reporting one of the men consistently attempted to forcibly enter the bathroom every time I was bathing, regardless of time of day (2 am, 2 pm). The man would also drunkenly demand to watch porn and act out for money, but the landlord did nothing. Twenty days later, the same person demanding sex acts for money while drunk physically groped my right breast. The landlord refuses to either evict him or relocate us, suggesting that I go to a shelter without my husband and dog. Why am I punished for existing with breasts and at the risk of being unable to leave the bedroom if my husband is at work? I filed a police report but they say it's civil. This is not civil. We are victims of landlord and employer retaliation, and even forced labor due to coerced debts, unable to get the employer to pay full wages. When we told him how illegal this is yesterday, he informed us that my husband wasn't going to be scheduled for a week or two and that we were in error—that he owed no wage and that we actually owed him over $1,600.

I can prove breach of fiduciary duty as employer and landlord purposefully employing with the intention of not compensating, misclassification tax evasion, wrongful termination and direct profit and theft of wages by unlawfully deducting coerced debts at a higher level than the actual bill (pocketing 50 percent or more of daily wages that disallow minimum wage and overtime pay).

Answered by Enjuris Editors:

Hello. I’m sorry you’re dealing with this. It sounds like a complicated and distressing situation. I’m not entirely clear on the facts — whether your landlord and your employer are the same party, for instance. Regardless, you have a right to be safe in your home and to be free from the type of treatment you describe.

My suggestion is that you seek the guidance of a local landlord/tenant or employment lawyer who can assess all of the information, review your lease contract and the terms of your husband’s employment, and assist you to find a more satisfactory living situation.

There are low- or no-cost services available through Texas Legal Services, or you can contact the state bar association for more information or referrals to affordable legal services. Best of luck. I hope the situation is resolved quickly.

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Laura Brown

Laura Brown has dedicated her career to being an advocate for individuals, children and families who have been hurt due to another person's negligence. In 2000, she launched her own personal injury law firm to focus on cases in Texas and nationwide, and she is especially passionate about birth injuries.

Laura attended Baylor University as an undergraduate premedical student, graduating with a degree in biology. Though she was destined to be a trial lawyer like her father and grandfather before her, her pre-med background was the perfect training for her ultimate calling: fighting for the victims of negligence. She was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1992 and has served her community ever since.

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