Thursday , November 30 2023

York County property manager prevented renters from posting negative online reviews: AG

A file photo of a pile of money. (Getty Images)

YORK COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) – A York County property manager will pay a settlement after issuing leases that prohibited and penalized tenants from posting negative online reviews.

The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office says Inch & Company Property Management LLC will pay $8,000 for alleged violations of the Federal Consumer Review Fairness Act and Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law.

Attorney General Michelle Henry says the leases issued by Inch & Co. “purported to unlawfully prohibit tenants of Inch & Company properties from posting online reviews about the property and management.”

Tenants who posted negative reviews were subject to financial penalties in their lease terms.

According to the property management website, Inch & Co. manages more than 4,500 rental units across Central Pennsylvania and Maryland and has been in business for more than 15 years.

“Online reviews are essential to consumers exploring their options for living spaces, and this clause prevented tenants from speaking the truth about their experiences,” Attorney General Henry said. “I encourage consumers to do their homework before signing any contract, and part of that research should include exploring any reviews that are available and may influence decision-making.” 

Of the $8,000 settlement, court filings show $5,000 will cover costs incurred by the Commonwealth and Attorney General’s office. The remaining $3,000 will be distributed to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Treasury as civil penalties.

The property managers must also comply with the Consumer Protection Law and Consumer Review Fairness Act of 2016, as well as cease utilizing a non-disparagement clause in any tenant contracts.

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