Businesses rarely underestimate the power of social media. A few bad reviews can cost a company dearly, especially the smaller ones, and Facebook pages with loads of ‘likes’ can make a place look pretty appealing. But one apartment complex has gone to extreme lengths to look popular, by demanding tenants give it positive feedback or face breaking their lease agreement.
It was last Thursday when some tenants of the City Park Apartments in Salt Lake City found “Facebook Addendums” taped to their front doors. One of the demands stated that they must ‘friend’ the complex with five days, or they'll be in breach of their rental agreement, which some tenants had signed just months earleir.
Local TV station KSL News reported that other parts of the addendum included the banning of any negative reviews - naturally - and a release that allows the complex to post pictures of residents and their visitors on its Facebook page.
The demands have prompted at least one tenant, Jason Ring, to move out of the apartments after the final month of his lease. “I don’t want to be forced to be someone’s friend and be threatened to break my lease because of that. It’s outrageous as far as I’m concerned,” Ring said. “It’s a violation of my privacy.”
Legal experts say the addendum may not be fair to those people who are unwilling or unable to create Facebook accounts, such as elderly individuals. It’s also pointed out that if a lease is already signed, tenants may not be required by law to sign late add-ons.
City Park Apartments' actions are similar to those of the Windermere Cay Florida complex from a few months ago. Its Social Media Addendum warned that any negative commentary or reviews on Yelp would be classified as a breach and result in a $10,000 fine for tenants.
In 2014, a UK couple who called the Blackpool hotel they stayed in a “filthy, dirty, rotten, stinking hovel run by muppets" on Trip Advisor found that the establishment had docked a further £100 ($144) from their credit card. It seems the small print of the booking document read: “For every bad review left on any website, the group organizer will be charged a maximum £100 per review."
Image credit: KSL