Florida Apartment Yelp Review: Owners Threat $10K Fine for Negative Comments & Reviews

Posted by christon jervil ligon (media@latinospost.com) on Mar 13, 2015 10:34 PM EDT
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Windermere Cay Apartments (Photo : Windermere Cay Apartments/ windermerecay.com)

Social media can work like a double-edged sword for both online and brick-and-mortar businesses out there. For one, its marketing potential is vast and far-reaching. On the flipside, online users have also turn to social media to voice out their concerns and disgruntlement. And, it's only a matter of time before it spreads like wildfire, or even go viral.

One Florida apartment complex, in an attempt to avoid negative press, decided to have none of it. Turns out, they are going to have their hands full.

The owners of Windermere Cay apartment located in Winter Garden City, Orlando, went so far as to asking their tenants to sign a lease agreement that includes a "Social Media Addendum" forbidding the signee from posting "negative commentary or reviews on Yelp, Apartment Ratings, Facebook, or any other website or Internet-based publication or blog", Ars Technica, an online Tech publications, reports.

Meanwhile, a breach of contract would mean a stupendous $10,000 fine for the first offense, and $5,000 for the succeeding offenses, thereafter.

One of the tenants, who asked for his name to remain incog, told Ars Technica that although he has no intentions of writing a bad rap against the apartment, he has a more pressing concern over another absurd clause in the said addendum: it also gives the owners the copyright on "any and all written or photographic works regarding the Owner, the Unit, the property, or the apartments."

"If I took a photo of people in my apartment, they would own it", the tenant said. "It's just ridiculous."

The owners also stated their justification in the addendum saying that this is necessary to protect the their interest against what they claim is a "growing trend" in the rental industry, wherein renters concoct slanderous accusations in order to forcibly work out a more favorable deal for them such as lowered rates and other concessions.

They also cited that such false claims could also result in potential loss of revenue and permanent damages to the reputation.

The apartment complex's property management is washing their hands of the "social media addendum" part of the contract. In their e-mail response to Ars Technica regarding the matter, they said that the "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."

The tenant, however, maintained that the absurd contract clause was still in the lease agreement he signed for renewal lasting another year. He told the management that he wanted it excluded, but to no avail.

The attempt of Windermere Cay owners to stave off bad write-ups ricocheted. Well, what goes around comes around, right? And, we're not talking about the come and go of tenants here. With how social media works, the apartment complex will surely have more online reviews coming their way in the coming days-unfortunately for the discerning owners, it's the $10,000-worth kind.

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