I had a horrible experience, wanted to move out and the landlord reactivated the ad.

Is it legal to post a comment to highlight my negative experiences? To me it seems like giving 1 star to a product on Amazon.


TL;DR It is legal as long as it's fair comment (opinions).

DISCLAIMER! I am not a lawyer. However, I do love reading law. There are links referring to legislation in the article to prove my answer.

In a nutshell, as long as what you say is not libelous or slander. If you were ever took to court, you have the defence of fair comment. AFAIK I haven't seen a court case yet about a landlord as a plaintiff, trying to sue someone for what you want.

There is Section 3 of the Defamation Act 2013 ("http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2013/26/contents") and it's really about honest opinion.

(1)It is a defence to an action for defamation for the defendant to show that the following conditions are met.

(2)The first condition is that the statement complained of was a statement of opinion.

(3)The second condition is that the statement complained of indicated, whether in general or specific terms, the basis of the opinion.

(4)The third condition is that an honest person could have held the opinion on the basis of—

(a)any fact which existed at the time the statement complained of was published;

(b)anything asserted to be a fact in a privileged statement published before the statement complained of.

(5)The defence is defeated if the claimant shows that the defendant did not hold the opinion.

(6)Subsection (5) does not apply in a case where the statement complained of was published by the defendant but made by another person (“the author”); and in such a case the defence is defeated if the claimant shows that the defendant knew or ought to have known that the author did not hold the opinion.

(7)For the purposes of subsection (4)(b) a statement is a “privileged statement” if the person responsible for its publication would have one or more of the following defences if an action for defamation were brought in respect of it—

(a)a defence under section 4 (publication on matter of public interest);

(b)a defence under section 6 (peer-reviewed statement in scientific or academic journal);

(c)a defence under section 14 of the Defamation Act 1996 (reports of court proceedings protected by absolute privilege);

(d)a defence under section 15 of that Act (other reports protected by qualified privilege).

(8)The common law defence of fair comment is abolished and, accordingly, section 6 of the Defamation Act 1952 (fair comment) is repealed.

If you are interested in law about it before 2013, there is also Section 6 of the Defamation Act 1952 ("http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Geo6and1Eliz2/15-16/66/contents") that says

In an action for libel or slander in respect of words consisting partly of allegations of fact and partly of expression of opinion, a defence of fair comment shall not fail by reason only that the truth of every allegation of fact is not proved if the expression of opinion is fair comment having regard to such of the facts alleged or referred to in the words complained of as are proved.

So, as long as it's fair comment, say what you want in terms of defamation. Obviously, use common sense and be careful about what you put and say in the comment. Constructive criticism goes much better than calling your landlord stupid. I hope this has helped you!

  • I’m curious, the second part to the defense (numbered as 3) does it have to factual? Or can it be a perceived belief? I know the burden of proof of a true statement falls on the defendant in the UK, does the burden of providing this basis is correct also fall on the defendant? – Viktor Jul 11 '18 at 15:12
  • No problem. Thank you for the upvote btw. The defence of fair comment can probably be both. I'm unsure. Slander could be calling someone a murderer or a sexual offender (well, there are limits out there to what you can say anyway). Might it mean that "I think" could be a good defence? A great one IMHO. – Steve Woods Jul 12 '18 at 9:44

The statement might cause financial harm to the landlord (inducing others to not rent the place), which could be a basis for a defamation lawsuit. However, if you can prove that the statement is true, you can use that as a defense in case you are sued. Alternatively, you could defend yourself on the grounds that the statement is an honest opinion (this new defense is explained here: it has to be a statement of opinion and not an imputation of fact and the basis of the opinion has to be stated; the topic does not have to be a matter of public intreest). So it really depends on what you say in the comment.

  • I don't know UK law. I'll just point out that the bare allegation that the statement is honest opinion is not enough to prevail if the statement itself is too charged with false statements of fact. In the US the landlord could sue even for defamation per se (without needing to prove that he has been harmed) if the statements are objectively verifiable as false. Therefore, the OP just to make sure that his negative review is truthful. – Iñaki Viggers Jul 7 '18 at 19:53

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