Tenants take beefs to the tweets

Rent it Right

Q: I live in a large apartment complex near my university. Management is very poor here: they don’t respond to repair requests; they close the laundry and pool facilities regularly; and they don’t keep the common areas clean. When the tenants have bad experiences, we’ve taken to tweeting about it to each other and our friends. Can we get into legal trouble for this? –Jason K.

A: Whether you face possible legal liability for the content of your tweets depends, first, on what you say. On this point, the law is rather clear: If your tweets are clearly expressions of opinion, or are factually true, you have nothing to fear. For example (please excuse my failure to use only 140 characters), if you were to say, "I think this property is poorly run and management is taking advantage of us as students," most judges would see that as an expression of your opinion, which they’ll protect as your right to free speech. Or, if you were to say, "Management is embroiled in a rent strike with tenants, and have been sued by several," and if these statements were factually true, you’d be in the clear.