Apartment Reviews Banned: Residents Could Be Fined For 'Defamation'

David Cornell

Apartment reviews can make or break a complex, either sending hopeful new residents to rent or sending them running to where they feel life would be less restrictive. Windermere Cay in Orlando, Florida, has taken a dramatic step toward ending the bad press before it starts.

Residents of the apartment complex will allegedly be fined $10,000 for writing a bad review, and anything found on social media regarding or taking place on the property, or about its owners, is considered their copyrighted property. This means if you upload a video to YouTube filmed inside one of their apartments, the landlord would own the rights to it and could have it taken down.

One resident who has requested to have their name withheld told a news publication about this portion of the lease.

— Mack McCoy (@Mack_McCoy) March 10, 2015

"There is a growing trend … where tenants will post unjustified and defamatory reviews regarding an apartment complex in an attempt to negotiate lower rent payments, or otherwise seek concessions from a landlord. Such postings can cripple a business by creating a false impression in the eyes of consumers. The damages resulting from this false impression can include potentially millions of dollars in economic losses, and have permanent consequences that can unjustly destroy a business."

One Windermere Cay resident moved there because he claims it was an easy commute to his job, but he noticed the wording on the lease and told the management that he refused to sign that part, and demanded it be removed. It's been a year now, and he was looking forward to not seeing the Addendum, but it was still there. He has once again refused to sign that part.

The resident told ARS Technica about his annoyance with the Social Media Addendum and its ban on negative apartment reviews.

"If I took a photo of people in my apartment, they would own it. It's just ridiculous."
"This addendum was put in place by a previous general partner for the community following a series of false reviews. The current general partner and property management do not support the continued use of this addendum and have voided it for all residents."

Before you sign anything or leave negative apartment reviews, keep this in mind and read before you sign. You never know if you'll get fined for your opinion.

[Image via Apartment Guide]