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A while back, a real estate agent told me that the best way to learn about a condominium building was to find its Google Group or blog. There, residents gabbed about new neighborhood spots, discussed issues with the management, and reported any crime concerns. It seemed like a easy way to communicate, not to mention avoid attending any residents’ meetings. But perhaps the simple days of bitching about your landlord by e-mail fury will soon be over. This weekend’s New York Times reports a story about tenants in a luxury building in Queens who were kicked out of their apartment after writing critically on the building’s Google Group:
Rockrose Development Corporation markets itself as something of a cruise director, fostering a sense of fun and neighborhood spirit in its luxury rental buildings fitted with pools, barbecue grills and party rooms.
But one former tenant, David Griffiths, now thinks of the real estate developer as more akin to Big Brother.
Mr. Griffiths, an information technology consultant, and his wife, Katy — who is pregnant — had to move in November when Rockrose declined to renew their lease at its EastCoast waterfront development in Long Island City, Queens.
A Rockrose employee, he said, told him it was because he had posted critical comments about the building on the Internet.
That surprised Mr. Griffiths, who indeed had posted complaints, but on a Google Groups forum that he created — a tenants’ group accessible only to members whom he approved.
“Dave, we understand that you’re not happy living here, so we made the decision for you,” the employee said, according to Mr. Griffiths.
“It’s very ‘1984,’ ” said Mr. Griffiths, 38, a Briton who seems mystified to find himself part of the turbulent annals of New York landlord-tenant relations.
Image by David Farrell