from the with-facebook-friends-like-these dept
We've done enough posts on apartment complex owners and property management companies to know that too many of them think that they can wage some kind of insane war on negative reviews that might be posted on social media and websites. To combat this, rather than simply addressing the concerns of their tenants, these misguided companies instead attempt to put social media and review policies as riders on the leases they offer. When that fails, some will either sue the critical parties, or will write in five-figure fines for posting anything that could possibly be deemed as critical.
But to see a really brazen attempt to shut up tenants, we can thank Dave Blevins for pointing us to the story of how one apartment owner tried to unilaterally force residents not only to keep quiet with any of their critiques online, but required them to "like" the apartment company on Facebook.
As KSL-TV reports, residents of an apartment building in Salt Lake City, Utah, say they found a curious piece of paper stuck to their doors. Headlined "Facebook Addendum," it had fascinating stipulations.
It insisted that tenants had five days to "friend" the City Park Apartments on Facebook or they'd be in breach of their lease. The fact that they'd already signed their lease perhaps months previously didn't seem to matter to the owners. Oh, and then there was the part about releasing the building owners to post pictures of the tenants or their visitors to, yes, the building's Facebook page.
You will also be traumatized into delirium when I tell you that another stipulation was that the tenants don't post anything negative on social media. This seems a strangely unbalanced "friendship."
So, not only a prohibition on negative reviews on social media, but also a requirement to give an endorsement of sorts instead. And all long after the lease was signed? Oh, this was just destined to go well for all involved.
Actually, the apartment building's Facebook page has a barely-there review score, with many folks dropping in to post negative reviews simply due to the draconian "policy" foisted upon its residents. I'd link to that particular Facebook page but, strangely, it has suddenly become unavailable for unknown reasons. As a result of all the backlash, the apartment building's law firm has helpfully fallen on the sword, indicating that it apparently didn't bother to review the notice it sent to tenants.
Perhaps the owners thought this was reasonable, modern behavior. A spokesman for the law offices of Kirk A. Cullimore, which represents the building owners, offered me this explanation:
As part of opening its pool and an anticipated pool party, City Park desired to provide some protection to its residents and its owners from usage of photos on its Facebook page from all community events, including the opening pool party. The "Facebook" addendum was provided to them to assist in that protection. That addendum went beyond the request and intent of City Park Apartments, and was not carefully reviewed to ensure that it met with their needs and requests. At no time was any resident in jeopardy of eviction or action from City Park for failure to sign the addendum or "friend" City Park Apartments. City Park has not implemented the addendum nor is it requiring its residents to execute it.
One wonders exactly how many billable hours were assigned for the task of creating an addendum outside of the lease agreement for tenants that the apartment complex apparently didn't want, which involved required Facebook likes and prohibited negative reviews, all in order to protect tenants from the horrors of the internet creeping into a simple pool party. Sounds like exactly the kind of thing that would either spur the choice to go with another legal team, or thank them for taking the heat via a heaping help of shielding bullshit.
Regardless, it would probably be best for the apartment to focus on making tenants happy rather than worrying about their social media reviews.