Have you returned those hedge clippers yet? If not, you could be on the internet - Rottenneighbor.com is a website that encourages people to air their neighbourly grievances. Touting themselves as “the first real estate search engine of its kind,” it allows Home Buyers, Home Owners and renters alike to search for both good neighbours (indicated by green houses) and unsavoury ones (indicated by red houses) living in cities throughout the world - provided that someone has complemented/complained about them.
Equating this to a piece of juicy neighbour gossip, I can definitely see the entertainment potential from such an amenity. Whether it helps the home buying process is a different story.
“Helping you find troublesome neighbours before you sign the paperwork on your new house, condo or apartment” is the stated goal of Rottenneighbors.com. Claiming that they are bestowing information that real estate agents are not required to disclose, a quick look at their legal statement provides the following disclaimer:
THE COMPANY DOES NOT GUARANTEE THE ACCURACY, COMPLETENESS, OR USEFULNESS OF ANY INFORMATION ON THE SERVICE AND NEITHER ADOPTS NOR ENDORSES NOR IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ACCURACY OR RELIABILITY OF ANY OPINION, ADVICE, OR STATEMENT MADE BY ANY USERS OF THE SERVICE.
As this is a website that encourages public contribution, I understand why such a clause is necessary in the prevention of potential lawsuits. However, the credibility of a 'horse's mouth' site like this comes into question when the providers are not willing to stand behind their content.
Posts can be written anonymously and complaints range from “hideous neon blue house” to detailed descriptions about extracurricular activities along with outright personal attacks complete with home addresses. These websites do not distinguish between false and legitimate entries and the content is largely subjective.
To the potential Home Buyer, I suggest taking the finger-pointing portion of this site with the proverbial grain of salt. Instead, research your Toronto neighbourhood of interest, talk to your prospective neighbours and get a feel for the community yourself. To the Home Owner and renter, there are tools available to constructively deal with problematic members of your community. In some cases, people are not aware that their actions may be unpleasant to others and all it takes is a conversation and mutual understanding to solve the problem. Any suspected illegal activity should be reported to the proper authorities - posting their names and place of residence online will not solve the problem.
Blog TO nailed it in referring to this site as a "virtual can of worms." However, if you feel compelled to share your neighbourly annoyances online, please understand what you may be starting or perpetuating. Remember, you may write about a neighbour, but they can just as easily write about you.
Jesse Fleming is a freelance writer based in Toronto. Email Jesse
March 5, 2008City |