Every rental property has a story. Sometimes it’s a story involving fresh coats of paint and new bathroom fixtures. Sometimes, however, it’s a gruesome tale of perpetually broken heating, barking dogs and neighbours that don’t understand the phrase “turn it down!”. apartmentratings.com is one website that aims to expose these stories, be they glowing recommendations or scathing rants.
Founded in 2000, apartmentratings.com provides reviews posted by previous and current tenants from rental properties across the US. Each review gives scores for parking, maintenance, construction, noise, grounds, safety and office staff. The website then calculates an overall rating and gives a “recommended by” percentage score. Needless to say, there are more than a few properties with a dismal score of zero percent.
Each review also includes a Google Maps view of the property, a graph outlining the average prices for the area and the rental property since 2000, a Q&A section, and a list of other recent reviews. Those who want yet more information can look under the tab marked “safety” to view a map of registered sex offenders within a radius of up to two miles.
apartmentratings.com is not a website known for moderate contributions. A recent review of the Hillsdale Gardens apartments in San Mateo, California gives a downright frightening account of the property, management and neighbouring tenants. By contrast, this review of Willow Glen Apartments in Fort Worth, Texas is all positive, yet perhaps slightly suspicious in its lack of detail.
Property managers are able contribute to reviews through the “I’m the manager” function. However, as apartmentratings.com relies heavily on the honesty of its contributors, it remains open to fraudulent reviews, as one commenter angrily suggests in this recent post.
Despite its relatively unregulated content, the website has attracted its fair share of attention, with features in The New York Times and The Washington Post. In July 2007, Internet Brands, Inc., bought apartmentratings.com, adding it to a network of websites the company claims receive a total of 48 million unique visitors each month.
You could argue that a website like apartmentratings.com is simply another collection of anonymous online rants, but a quick glance through the “success stories” section of the website tells another tale. One commenter gives perhaps the most convincing argument in favour of the website when she writes: “At my complex, the only thing that makes the management do anything is seeing a complaint on apartmentratings.com.”