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Florida Apartment Complex: Write a Bad Review, We Fine You $10,000

March 13, 2015

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Here at ReviewTrackers we firmly believe that there are a number of effective strategies for managing and responding to negative reviews.

Censorship is NOT one of these strategies.

If only we could schedule a call with business owners who don’t seem to grasp that. Last year, a hotel in Hudson, New York attempted to charge guests $500 for every bad review. Then, just last week, a shades and blinds company here in Chicago sued a couple of review writers for libel. These attempts to stifle negative reviews have resulted in a kind of Streisand effect, prompting a number of consumers to post even more bad online reviews of the companies.

Most recently, an apartment complex in Florida called the Windmere Cay Complex was discovered to have started forcing tenants to sign a “social media addendum” to their lease application contracts, forcing them to pay a whopping $10,000 for every negative review.

The addendum reads: “In consideration for owner’s lease of the unit to the applicant, applicant will refrain from…publishing or airing negative commentary regarding the unit, owner, the property, or the apartments…. This means that applicant shall not post negative commentary or reviews on Yelp, Apartment Ratings, Facebook or any other website…. The amount of compensation due to owner for any breach of this social media addendum will be $10,000 for the first such breach…..”

responding to negative reviews

To no one’s surprise, Windmere Cay Complex’s Yelp page and Apartment Ratings profile have been bombarded with harsh reviews and one-star ratings, most of which weren’t even posted by tenants.

“This company has proven a complete and total disregard for its residents by having a clause in their lease contracts demanding copyright of all material produced there and $10,000 fines for bad reviews,” writes Yelper Luke M. “You would be wise to avoid even considering living at this sure hellhole of an establishment. Imagine trying to get a toilet fixed if they have similar policies!”

Meanwhile, a one-star review on Apartment Ratings reads: “(Management) is pretty scummy, to the point that if they hadn’t been so greedy as to extort their current tenants by fining them $10,000 for leaving a bad review online, then MAYBE the apartment complex would warrant a two- or three-star review. Avoid this apartment complex at all costs.”

The amount of negative publicity that the apartment complex has unintentionally generated is completely unnecessary. The addendum is not likely to hold up in court anyway, according to legal experts. “It would be a terrible idea to enforce this in court, a judge is going to shred it,” said Santa Clara University Law School professor Eric Goldman.

Forget review and social media censorship. If you received a bad online review, read these posts for tips on how to respond in ways that protect your business reputation:

 

(Image credit: Yelp)

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