back to article Landlord sues tenant over moldy Tweet

Pop quiz. You find a disparaging post about your company on Twitter that's written by a client who's followed by a mere 20 people. You fear the offhand remark about the poor quality of your service could harm your company's reputation. What's the absolute worst way to make it go away? Do you: A) ignore it. B) remedy the …

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Black Helicopters

Is no-one else a bit worried...

...that a letting agency was following one of their tenants on twitter? That'd be reason enough for me not to let from them, if I was on twitter in the first place.

Unless she did '@Horizon', which would've been a little silly of her.

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Megaphone

Why should a Tweet like that bother them?

They ARE landlords after all, just jack the rent up by 2000%, like any other landlord would do.

As for being OK with mold, well I think every landlord (oops, I typed landlard first. Freud, eh?) here in Australia thinks it's actually mandatory!

Airhorn, because.. well, just because.

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Alert

Don't care what you say, as long as you spell my name right...

It's 1-8**-H-O-R-I-Z-O-N.

Got that?

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FAIL

Nice people...

Almost makes me want to move to Chicago so I can rent from somebody else. I sent them a note telling them this, I hope they enjoy the attention! Oh wait, maybe they'll sue us all as spammers...

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Happy

Free Speech

This lady was expressing an opinion... We still have free speech here in the USA so Horizon is wasting time and money. In some places, people or groups who file frivolous lawsuits are financially responsible for all court costs for both parties. This company may be sinking it's own ship. On the other hand, be aware of what you're putting on the net. It can come back and bite you. Whatever you write will be out there for anyone and everyone to see. It is not private.

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Coat

@Cameron Colley

"Unless there are people out there who like people who sue first and ask questions later?"

Yes - they're called lawyers.

Ah thanks - mine's the navy blue mohair with the silk lining

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Paris Hilton

Horizon press release??

Not sure if this is real but the comment that was attributed to the spokeperson was meant to be tongue and cheek apparently.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/17759565/Horizon-Realty-Press-Release

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FAIL

Arseholes like the rest of their industry

Letting agents are stupid, they make their living by telling lies and avoid providing the services that they are paid to provide.

The last one I dealt with tried to screw me over so I complained about them and had them struck off the membership of the National Association of Estate Agents, who were also a bunch of cowboys.

I hope Horizon goes bust very soon.

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FAIL

Works both ways

Hmm .. I read the press release from the company that they posted yesterday. They claim the roof had a leak in march, tenant tweeted in May, left in June with no evidence of mold in the vacated apartment (or anywhere else in the property) and sued the company. The twitter comment was turned up when they set up their defense. So, if you believe this, there wasn't any mold, they weren't stalking the tenant and the tenant was the one that took them to court in the first place. To several posters on this page .. guys .. you do actually read up the background to a story before you post, don't you?

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Stop

BACK STORY - She was already sue'ing the landlord

Steady on chaps. The back story, as i understand it, is that she was already sue'ing the landlord after some water damage. The landlord did a web search on the person who was sue'ing them.

The USA is a very litigious place compared to blighty :-(

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FAIL

Perhaps...

...this should be a lesson to corporations to employ a little bit of the gray matter first, rather than blindly following advice from a law firm that clearly stands to profit from a lawsuit.

But I suppose that's asking too much.

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Anonymous Coward

The Solution

The lesson here is, if you're going to call out somebody, do it on sites that protect your anonymity. I used coolersoup.com to call out my boss on stuff too sensitive to talk about openly in the office, cc'd colleagues on the comment, and raised up a firestorm :).... and remained protected from nasty libel suits (though they say truth provides complete protection).

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Free speech? What? This is stupid.

All of you idiots who think the first amendment to the US constitution has anything to do with this ought to try actually reading it. Where does it say anything about regulating what private corporations say or do, or how they treat religion et cetera? This is not a free-speech issue.

As to the actual situation, if I were Horizon what's-their-nuts, I wouldn't be too terribly worried. Yes, the Internet is angry at them right now, and that means what exactly to them? A bunch of phone calls, emails, comment-form submissions (which I very confidently assure you are going to /dev/null already, so y'all just have a blast with that!), and bad press. Oh, God, not that!

Y'all, this is a company which already makes its business model around screwing people who have no idea at all going in of what kind of belly-crawling evil they're dealing with; they do this because they have to know that anyone aware of their reputation will only do business with them at gunpoint. (The "sue first and ask questions later" comment is what really makes this clear; it's really, really hard to argue that a company whose representatives will take that attitude in public is simply unaware of its vileness.)

A little bad press means what to them? You think a bunch of noise on Twitter and blogs is going to significantly reduce their range of potential victims, or impact their bottom line? Let me tell you something that maybe you haven't had occasion to hear before: not everybody is on the goddamned Internet, and people who aren't on the Internet still matter -- I know that last one's a shocker, but try to encompass it, okay? So the most -- the very most -- this fifth-grade harassment campaign is going to accomplish is to maybe get a couple of two-minute stories on the five o'clock news somewhere within a hundred miles of Chicago, and that's going to be watched by maybe one one-hundredth of Horizon's potential customer base. How much effect do you really think that's likely to have on how they do business?

All that's being accomplished by any of this is to make life difficult for the lowest-level office peons at Horizon -- people who, I assure you, were hired (as cheaply as possible) for the purpose of making this sort of thing a minimal sub-nuisance at best to the people who're actually responsible for, and who really benefit from, Horizon's miserable practices. Congratulations! You've further complicated the already-miserable process of earning a minimal living -- and all for people who are completely powerless to effect the change you'd like to see! FUCK THE MAN WOOO

And you know what the other funny part here is? The Internet gets bored. Hell, the Internet gets bored *fast* -- how long'd Iran last? Two weeks, three at the outside? And only one of those really counted for anything, in the sense of people actually paying attention instead of going "Oh...yeah...Iran." The Internet got bored with the Green Revolution *real* quick. How long's this one going to last? A day? Half a day? I bet you a dollar that two-thirds of these people who've made these big deals of what they're doing -- I bet they don't even come back to this comment thread after lunch, except maybe to check and see whether anyone's been fellating them as the obvious gods among men that they are.

And it's all over a bunch of swollen smug self-righteousness, exercised on behalf of someone who's only worth even *pretending* to care about on account of being enough Like Us to use Twitter. Y'all didn't give a damn about people stuck in Chicago tenements yesterday, and y'all won't give a damn about people stuck in Chicago tenements tomorrow, and the people who own and take profits from Chicago tenements aren't going to be affected one whit in any direction by all this pointless heat and noise, and it took Twitter -- *Twitter*, for God's sake! -- to alert you to the existence of a problem that's been around since long before your grandparents were born. And now you're all fired up, gonna scream at somebody and change the whole world.

What are y'all, five? And what real difference do you honestly think you're making?

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Silver badge
Go

Easy defense

The tweet clearly falls into the "fair comment" bin. Unless Horizon can show actual malice, they are headed down shit creek sans paddle, ooh look... rapids. Add to that the fact they will have to show they have been damaged, I think this is different from UK law where I understand alleged damages are sufficient. Libel doesn't take place if everyone who reads it shrugs and says "so what" because no damage was done. Furthermore, their own comments have effectively immunized everyone else by making it so no further damage can be done to their reputation, so party on!

*disclaimer, Damn it Jim, I'm a commentard, not a lawyer!

Now, about that shit creek without a paddle icon.

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Megaphone

@gerhardt

>In England, you can be sued for not clearing snow off the pavement, should some errant soul

>slip on it.

Not true. That would not be your fault, as nature placed the snow there, and the pavement is council property, not the home owner...

HOWEVER - you CAN be sued if you DO clear the snow off the pavement, and THEN someone slips on it, as you are deemed to have caused the path to be a danger....

So, best not to touch the snow on your footpath but to leave it where it is...

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@Bill B: Was the roof leak fixed? and how well, if so?

If Horizon took shortcuts to plug the leak, then the mold is coming. Simple natural science, and the tenant would still not be libelous even with current lack of mold. I, for one, would not put it past a landlord (especially in Chicago) to cut corners on repairs. Trust me, I know from experience what corner-cutting can do. Towers Management (which operates in MN and MI), I'm looking at you! A badly-constructed not-up-to-code fireplace could have killed me and my then-partner if we weren't awake at 4AM one day. -.-

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Anonymous Coward

She should

Declare herself bankrupt and stick two fingers up at 'em.

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FAIL

I know everyone's said it before but...

I just need to say it too!

And the award for shooting oneself in the foot with a Large Hadron Collider goes to...

Jeffery Michael

"We're a sue first, ask questions later kind of an organization," Jeffery Michael, whose family runs Horizon, told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Sir, we salute you. Thankyou for giving me spasms of laughter that will last the entire day. I do hope you wont sue me for being jolly.

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Linux

Suicidal

I've tried all manner of ways to maximize profit, but not one of them was entirely suicidal.

If I wanted to rent an aprtment in ameiriKAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA, I now know for sure not to go to these people, and that's not because of a tweet, but because of a completely media savvyless company.

Penguin, because they are obviously fuckwits.

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FAIL

@Aaron Em

tl;dr

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Paris Hilton

@DJ Particle

I have to ask DJ, why, pray tell, were you up at 4am ;-)

Was she the reason :P

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Coat

Universal

Of course it's not confined to America

http://www.badscience.net/2009/07/we-are-more-possible-than-you-can-powerfully-imagine/

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Silver badge

re: Is no-one else a bit worried...

The flip side... would you want a tenant that tweets?

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FAIL

hahaha

Hadn't seen this but my landlords must have read this and taken note. I posted on twitter about their attempts to bypass the relevant legislation and impose a two month notice period on me and they then threatened to sue me for libel.

It all turned out fine after I sent them some threatening emails back and pointed out the relevant part of the law that applied. They have since claimed that it was just plain ignorance to the law rather than any sort of malicious attempt to extort an extra months rent out of me.

Of course I am fully willing to accept that Chaneys Chartered Surveyors or Sonning in Berkshire are, by their own admission, incompetent rather than malicious.

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@She Should (Anon Wednesday 29th July 2009 16:43 GMT)

By Anonymous Coward Posted Wednesday 29th July 2009 16:43 GMT

Declare herself bankrupt and stick two fingers up at 'em.

So you propose that she ruin her own life, then declare peace with Horizon?

In case you missed it, two fingers in the US means peace. Also, declaring bankruptcy to protect yourself from a suit that you will win is probably a foolish move.

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Thumb Down

Jeff Michael resigns by proxy.

I had a feeling he needed me to send this for him, So I did,

"Why do you all hate me?

All I did was try and destroy Horizon and lose everybody their jobs.

Was that so bad?

I hate working here now.

I quit.

Up Yours sincerely,

J. Michael,

Head of publc disasters."

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