Building a website
March 5, 2006 6:43 AM   Subscribe

Tips on building a website? I've found that simply owning such a domain name has given me leverage in negotiating with a business in the past. This time, I may want to go through with building such a site. More inside.

Property managment companies are notorious for "legally" ripping people off who rent their properties. Of course you don't find this out until you leave and don't get your deposit back, get charged for extra months rent, etc. I have the feeling that my city is full of people who would love to tell their stories. Publicizing such a site (such as in the campus newspaper) would probably have an impact on their ability to rent to others (or at least they might fear it would) giving me some leverage. Actually building such a site would potentially help more than myself - but be a benefit to anyone looking to avoid predatory property management companies.

I'm interested in doing all that I legally can in creating a site for people to tell their stories about how this business sucks. Any tips or things that should be avoided would be appreciated. (I know that this is not the place to come for LEGAL advise and that you AreNotALawyer). TIA for any suggestions or your experiences.
posted by spock to Work & Money (5 answers total)
Response by poster: I administer web servers and web apps and taught basic web site design for a few summers, so I think I can handle the technical issues. I'm interested more in effective techniques and avoiding things that are definite no-nos.
posted by spock at 6:44 AM on March 5, 2006

IAAL, and have dealt with many domain name issues. These matters, like most legal matters, are highly fact specific. Needless to say, I would recommend getting a competent opinion letter from a legal professional regarding the details of your particular situation. Are you prepared to spend the money defending an ACPA action or UDRP arbitration?
posted by anathema at 8:34 AM on March 5, 2006

You'd probably want to talk to a lawyer or at least read up on libel laws, and how you can protect yourself if the stuff people post isn't true.

See also,, which is doing this sort of thing already - but badly, in my opinion, having chosen a blog format which is a poor choice for something that needs to be searchable later.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:05 AM on March 5, 2006

See here ... if you put down opinion from anonymous stangers someone will get it wrong and you're be sued into the ground. But if you base it on court cases then it's hard to dispute.

Alternatively, keep the site moving around domains and do it anonymously. But I don't think there's much middle ground here.

ps. I just won a case against a jerk landlord. That was the second time I've had to take a landlord to court, and as you can see I'm getting more relaxed about the whole matter.

posted by holloway at 3:40 PM on March 5, 2006

I thought about something similar a few years ago, focusing on landlords in London. A few suggestions:

Don't just focus on negative experiences. The fact that a landlord called out an emergency plumber at 3AM is just as useful for a potential renter as a horror story.

If I had done it, I would have hosted in the US and used various levels of indirection to buy domain names and hosting. You might want to consider a similar stratergy.

As a user, I want to be able to search against property address, landlord's name and management company's name.

Think about what services a renter might find useul, and make the opinions section part of a larger package. For example, if I've just moved into a property I need to know phone numbers for telcos, gas and electricity suppliers, maybe even doctors and takeaways. A "cheat sheet" of useful numbers is quite likely to be printed out and kept around.
posted by Leon at 5:30 PM on March 5, 2006

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