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I've been told that if you disagree with the management of this particular retirement housing organization which operates a Housing and Urban Development (HUD) facility here in Indiana (United States), or have grievances, they will fall on deaf ears.

Apparently, if you post about the issue publicly on social media, they might terminate your lease unless you remove the posts - even if they don't implicate anyone in particular.

Wouldn't that violate my rights?

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    I think this would depend primarily on what's in the lease. Feb 22 at 14:23
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    The First Amendment is the right to have a voice and express opinions publicly, not immunity from any repercussions of what you say with that voice.
    – DBS
    Feb 22 at 16:10
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    I don't think anything would prevent them from declining to renew the lease when it lapses. Or, if you're in "at will" mode, from terminating it at any time with reasonable notice. They don't even have to give a reason for those. So in practical terms... is this a fight you really want to have?
    – keshlam
    Feb 22 at 21:21
  • The real world solution is to just leave the reviews with a fake (but plausible sounding) name. Let em' go nuts trying to figure out who did it. Feb 23 at 1:37
  • I assume HUD = Housing and Urban Development? Please edit the question if I'm wrong.
    – gerrit
    Feb 23 at 7:52

1 Answer 1

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What First Amendment rights?

The First Amendment says:

Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; ...

By virtue of the Fourteenth Amendment, this restriction also applies to the states (including local government).

As far as I can see, this is a private organisation, not a government, so the First Amendment does not bind them. If they take government money (which I can't tell), they may have to abide by the First Amendment but if they are privately funded, no.

If you call them incompetent, they can tell you to leave. Freedom of speech includes the right for other people to react to your speech.

That said, there may be housing laws that prevent leases from being terminated for such a cause, but it's not a First Amendment issue. Of course, the lease would have to contain a clause allowing such termination, but complying with community rules would almost surely be in there.

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    While the question mentions the First Amendment, I don't think it's limited to that. Since it's a HUD facility, it seems like there would be federal laws governing grounds for terminating leases.
    – Barmar
    Feb 22 at 15:38
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    It doesn't apply in any privately-owned forum, for example, the stack exchange. I remember one moderator that was fired because of some posts, no first amendment either, but I don't recall their name. Feb 22 at 17:02
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    They can't terminate a lease for that unless the lease agreement says they can. The point of lease is there's penalties for breaking early.
    – Joshua
    Feb 22 at 21:06
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    This answer is incomplete. Of course the first amendment does not prevent this, but tenants' rights laws may very well restrict no-fault evictions and/or define what counts as a fault. The analogy with a web forum volunteer (as referred to by Mindwin) does not hold, because in most places there are laws protecting the place where one lives, which is very different from volunteering for a web forum. Even if most US places have weaker tenants rights laws than elsewhere, HUD is apparently government-run and may well have rules about conditions for evictions.
    – gerrit
    Feb 23 at 7:50
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    @DaleM It does, but then it doesn't proceed to go into detail, thus leaving the answer in a "I don't know" limbo.
    – gerrit
    Feb 23 at 8:05

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