Think Twice Before Posting a Negative Rental Review
By Salvatore J. Friscia, San Diego Premier Property Management, San Diego, CA
The landlord won’t make timely repairs, the common area laundry room is a mess, or the management company never answers their phones. Three very common complaints found online from renters regarding their experience with property management companies across the country. In the past, potential applicants would only discover these complaints by either word of mouth, knowing someone in the complex, or worse, once it’s too late and they were already experiencing issues first hand. Well, social media has certainly changed that, and with a click of a mouse (or should I say the pressing of a finger against the touch screen), past and present tenants can now comment on their rental experience. Power sites such as Yelp, Kudzu, Angie's List, and of course Facebook and Twitter, are open forums respected by many that allow reviews, dialogue, and comments that in some cases can have lasting and serious consequences whether good or bad to the property management company against which they are levied. This form of feedback and review seems fair and useful in helping determine which property management companies have built better tenant relations. But should tenants beware when posting something less flattering or even downright negative regarding their experience with a property management company?
Just recently a woman, Helen Maslona of Chicago, was sued over her posting of a negative online review about a contractor on an leading online review website. These types of lawsuits are becoming more common and are referred to as SLAPP lawsuits (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation). As many as 27 states have Anti-SLAPP laws, but many don’t and leave unsuspecting reviewers vulnerable to backlash from their comment or review. If you plan on making comments or reviews, it is suggested that you take a few things into consideration to protect yourself and also offer the best online review to the public.
1) Tell the truth about the experience.
2) Comment with the intent to help others benefit from your review.
3) Stay clear of vulgarities, heavy opinions, and accusations.
If you do find yourself posting a negative review, allow the property management company to respond and hopefully clear up the misunderstanding. Most reputable companies will try to accommodate their tenants and preserve their online reputation. In kind, make sure you follow up that negative comment with an update showing the resolution. Just remember that reviews on social media sites are both necessary and important but can have consequences, so be careful what you post out there.