Think Twice Before Posting a Negative Rental Review
By Salvatore J. Friscia
San Diego Premier Property Management
The landlord won’t make timely repairs, the common area laundry room is a mess or the management company never answers the phone. These are 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 was too late and they were already experiencing issues firsthand. Well, social media has certainly changed that, and with a click of a mouse, past and present tenants can now comment on their rental experience.
Sites such as Yelp, Kudzu, Angie’s List and, of course, Facebook and Twitter are respected open forums that allow reviews, dialogue and comments that in some cases can have lasting and serious consequences — good or bad — for property management companies. 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?
Helen Maslona of Chicago was recently sued over her posting of a negative online review about a contractor. 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, leaving 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 offer the best online review to the public:
- Tell the truth about the experience.
- Comment with the intent to help others benefit from your review.
- 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.
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Salvatore Friscia is a seasoned real estate investor and a residential property management specialist, focusing on single-family homes, condos and small apartment complexes. He is the founder of San Diego Premier Property Management as well as The Friscia Group One, an investment group focused on distressed properties. He is a regular contributor to the industry blog All Things Property Management by Buildium, a property management software company.
Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.