Central PA Property management company settles over illegal non-disparagement clause

20 November 2023- Attorney General Michelle A. Henry announced a settlement agreement with central Pennsylvania-based Inch & Company Property Management, LLC over alleged violations of the Federal Consumer Review Fairness Act and Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law.

The settlement addresses lease terms that purported to unlawfully prohibit tenants of Inch & Company properties from posting online reviews about the property and management. Posting negative online reviews subjected tenants to financial penalties, per lease terms.

Under the settlement, Inch & Company is prohibited from using such non-disparagement clauses in future leases, and it must immediately notify all tenants that the current non-disparagement clauses included in a tenant’s lease is no longer applicable.

“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.”

The Consumer Review Fairness Act prohibits businesses from utilizing a contract that imposes a penalty on an individual for posting reviews or commenting about the business. The restriction extends to landlords prohibiting tenants from posting reviews online about the landlord’s property and/or management practices. 

This Assurance of Voluntary Compliance was filed in the York County Court of Common Pleas by Senior Deputy Attorney General Paul D. Edger.