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US apartments demanded Facebook 'likes'

Do Not UseDo Not Use 1/06/2016 By Chris Baraniuk
"Like us on Facebook" sticker: Facebook "Likes" are commonly sought by businesses - but few have tried to make them a legal requirement © AFP Facebook "Likes" are commonly sought by businesses - but few have tried to make them a legal requirement

Tenants in Utah were asked to sign a new lease agreement requiring them to "friend" and "like" their apartment complex on Facebook.

Residents at the City Park Apartments complex in Salt Lake City complained to local news service KSL that they found contract addenda taped to their doors.

It required tenants to "like" City Park Apartments on Facebook.

However, the addendum has now been withdrawn and City Park Apartments' community manager has apologised

"Facebook is totally optional. For them to force someone's hand to do this is kind of ridiculous," tenant Jason Ring told the BBC.

He added that he was pleased with how the episode had unfolded.

"I'm hoping this will bring more light to the fact that this was really inappropriate," he said.

"They should never have tried this stunt in the first place."

Angry reviews

The City Park Apartments Facebook page was flooded with negative comments and now appears to have been removed.

On Yelp and Apartmentratings.com, however, many users have left further critical remarks.

"I didn't think they could get any worse but they did!" wrote one apparent tenant on Yelp.

"Now you are required to like their Facebook page or it is a breach in contract!? Are you serious?"

Now, Kirk A Cullimore LLC, a law firm in Utah representing the apartment complex owners, has said the addendum was "not carefully reviewed" and that "at no time was any resident in jeopardy of eviction or action from City Park for failure to sign the addendum".

'Pool party'

"As part of opening its pool and an anticipated pool party, City Park desired to provide some protection to its residents and its owners from usage of photos on its Facebook page from all community events, including the opening pool party," the statement read.

"The Facebook Addendum was provided to them to assist in that protection.

"That addendum went beyond the request and intent of City Park Apartments, and was not carefully reviewed to ensure that it met with their needs and requests."

"We sincerely apologise for any confusion this may have caused and hope to earn your positive comments through our customer service efforts and not through any perceived obligation," said community manager Ana Raphael in a statement to KSL.

The statement added a clarification to say that residents would not be required to sign the new agreement.

In England and Wales, it would be "difficult and quite costly" for landlords to enforce requirements that tenants add or like them on social media, according to Bimal Kotecha, a solicitor at Lexlaw Solicitors & Advocates in London.

Citing the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999, Mr Kotecha told the BBC a tenant could likely contest any attempt at eviction over social media clauses.

Last year, the owners of an apartment complex in Florida asked tenants to sign a "Social Media Addendum" banning them from posting negative reviews on sites like Yelp and Facebook.

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