The Inside Edge
As a property undergraduate I recall sitting in damp digs smoking roll-ups wondering why I was reading about the the history of Landlord and Tenant Law when I could have been shooting pool in The Ship and sinking pints of cider for less than the price of a load in the laundrette.
The purpose of Landlord and Tenant Laws, I learned, are to balance the rights of both landlord and tenant. With this island’s history rooted in a feudal system where peons lived in hovels at the pleasure of the landed gentry the tenancy laws handed protection to the people with regards their home. Now we have the European Court of Human Rights and are kicking The Peers out of parliament in favour of Our Peers (in principle anyway).
We also have the Internet, access to more information than ever and we are replacing mob justice with blog justice as brands and behaviour are discussed online – favouring consumer power over public hangings.
On The Modern Estate Agent blog, Martin Smith recently wrote about the importance and difficulty of managing online reviews for Estate Agents. Well, Landlords may quiver in their boots now as a new website Rate or Hate your Landlord encourages tenants (yes you guessed it) to rate or hate their Landlord – publicly.
PR companies talk of online reputation management, which is fine for big business, but now your small business reputation may sink or swim based on what people are saying about you on social media sites such as facebook, twitter and ratings websites.
From a philosophical perspective you could argue that this is the most virtuous of virtual yardsticks, encouraging fair play and holding business to account in a way not seen since Anne Robinson presented Watchdog and supplementing the statutory rights applied by the Landlord and Tenant Laws.
Or, you could argue that small businesses will become slaves to public opinion and we’ll all start airing our dirty laundry in public.
After all customers are sometimes wrong, Tenants and Landlords can both lie and their are two sides to every argument. The consumer has nothing to lose posting an anonymous review for a perceived injustice, whether real or not – the business does not share the anonymity and has to live or die buy its reputation.
And as for those damp student digs? The day we left, the kitchen ceiling fell to the floor – literally. We lost all our deposits – mainly to replace mattresses and re-seed the postage stamp lawn where excessive wear and tear (football) had resulted in a bald patch – supposedly costing hundreds of pounds. If only there had been an outlet for us to vent our fury and shame our greedy Landlord.