By Salvatore J. Friscia, All Things Property Management

SEATTLE (Zillow) — The landlord won’t make timely repairs, the common area laundry room is a mess or the management company never answers the phone. These are very common complaints found online from renters regarding their experience with property management companies across the country.

In the past, potential applicants would discover these complaints by either word of mouth, knowing someone in the complex or, worse, once it was too late and they were already experiencing issues firsthand. Well, social media has certainly changed that. With a click of a mouse, past and present tenants can now comment on their rental experience.

Sites such as Yelp, Kudzu, Angie’s List and, of course, Facebook and Twitter allow reviews, dialogue and comments that in some cases can have lasting and serious consequences — good or bad — for property management companies. This form of feedback and review seems fair and useful in helping determine which property management companies have built better tenant relations. But should tenants beware when posting something less flattering or even downright negative regarding their experience with a property management company?

Helen Maslona of Chicago was recently sued over posting a negative review about a contractor. These types of lawsuits — often referred to as SLAPP, or Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation — are becoming more common. As many as 27 states have anti-SLAPP laws, but many don’t, leaving unsuspecting reviewers vulnerable to backlash from their comment or review.

If you plan to make comments or reviews, consider a few steps to protect yourself and offer the best online review to the public:

  • Tell the truth.
  • Comment to help others.
  • Stay clear of vulgarities, opinions and accusations.

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If you do find yourself posting a negative review, allow the property management company to respond and hopefully clear up the misunderstanding. Most reputable companies will try to accommodate tenants and preserve their online reputation. Make sure you follow up that negative comment with an update showing the resolution.

Just remember that reviews on social media sites are ] necessary and important, but they can have consequences. So be careful what you post out there.

Salvatore Friscia is a seasoned real estate investor and a residential property management specialist focusing on single-family homes, condos and small apartment complexes. He is the founder of San Diego Premier Property Management as well as The Friscia Group One, an investment group focused on distressed properties. He is a regular contributor to the industry blog All Things Property Management by Buildium, a property management software company.

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