Yesterday I read an article which I really found quite shocking: apparently there is a growing trend in landlords inserting social media gag clauses into their leases, prohibiting tenants from making derogatory comments about them or their building online. This is certainly not something I have seen in my practice yet, however, it got me thinking about the pros and cons of such provisions, and whether it is something I ought to be discussing with my clients.
As a millennial myself (well, I'm 30, does that still make me a millennial?!) I have grown up with social media being an ordinary and embedded part of my daily life. That's not to say it doesn't have a sinister side, with trolling and cyber bullying a growing concern and in some tragic cases leading those affected to suicide (who can forget the troubling story this summer about former Love Island contestant Sophie Gradon taking her life). It's so easy now for people to sit behind the safety of their phones and say whatever they want, without any real consequences.
On the one hand, if a tenant is putting out potentially damaging comments on the internet, such a gag clause would have its benefits. The tenant would be in breach of the lease and the landlord can accordingly forfeit said lease and be rid of the problematic tenant. But is this really getting to the route of the problem? The negative content is already out there and simply forfeiting the lease won't stop that.
I am certainly very interested to see how this trend evolves. With the ever growing presence of technology and social media interaction in our daily lives, it is probably inevitable that leases will eventually cater for these types of issues as standard.