Tenant's tweet about mold prompts libel suit by landlord

And, of course, it's the publicity that's making a mountain out of this mold-hill

This latest example of ordinary people courting trouble on Twitter isn't the usual cautionary tale about remembering that what's written on the Internet stays on the Internet. Nope, it's more about why people hate landlords.

According to this story in the Chicago Sun-Times:

Horizon Group Management LLC filed a libel lawsuit Monday against former tenant Amanda Bonnen, claiming one of her alleged Twitter posts "maliciously and wrongfully" slammed her apartment at 4242 N. Sheridan and the company managing it.

The May 12 Tweet under the handle "abonnen" reads in part: "Who said sleeping in a moldy apartment was bad for you? Horizon realty thinks it's okay."

Now I have no way of knowing whether Bonnen's apartment contained mold, and, if so, whether Horizon considered said mold an amenity akin to central air, as her snarky tweet might imply.

But here are a couple of things I do know for certain.

First, the damage to Horizon's reputation -- should there actually be any -- will have been all but exclusively a consequence of Horizon having brought this silly lawsuit. And should Chicago apartment seekers come to believe that Horizon offers moldy apartments with a side order of cold indifference? Well, that, too, will be Horizon's own doing.

How do I know this? Well, Bonnen's Twitter following -- such as it was -- numbered all of 15 people, at least until it disappeared, whereas the readership of the Chicago Sun-Times, even given the current state of the newspaper business, is considerably higher.

The second thing I know is that Horizon appears to be owned by the kind of people who give landlords a bad name. From that Sun-Times story:

Jeffrey Michael, whose family has run Horizon for more than 25 years, said: "The statements (in Bonne's tweet) are obviously false, and it's our intention to prove that." He said that while she moved out recently, the company never had a conversation about the post and never asked her to take it down.

"We're a sue-first, ask-questions-later kind of an organization," he said, noting that the company manages 1,500 apartments in Chicago and has a good reputation it wants to preserve.

Then they ought to stop filing frivolous lawsuits ... and find a less arrogant family spokesman.

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