Landlord review database in development by Uprise RI

RI-VIEWS, a database being developed by Uprise RI, will include a section for landlord reviews. The database was sparked in part by agencies such as Pioneer Investments LLC, which currently faces a lawsuit for alleged health and safety violations, as well as other unfair or deceptive practices. This photo was taken by a tenant inside one of Pioneer's 175 Rhode Island properties. / COURTESY R.I. Office OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
RI-VIEWS, a database being developed by Uprise RI, will include a section for landlord reviews. The database was sparked in part by agencies such as Pioneer Investments LLC, which currently faces a lawsuit for alleged health and safety violations, as well as other unfair or deceptive practices. This photo was taken by a tenant inside one of Pioneer's 175 Rhode Island properties. / COURTESY R.I. Office OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL

PROVIDENCE – RI-Views, a database in development by Uprise RI, started as a “Yelp-style reviews directory for R.I. state agencies,” the progressive news outlet says.

Soon after sharing plans for the database, said Uprise RI President Greg Brailsford, readers requested an addition: a review database to hold landlords accountable.

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That database is now set to become a reality, Brailsford said, with RI-Views reviews for state agencies set to launch this month, and the landlord database likely at a later date.

The database intends to hold agencies and landlords to the same public scrutiny, or approval, that businesses receive through review services such as Yelp.

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Providing a review platform for state agencies felt particularly pertinent because they don’t face the same competition as businesses, Brailsford said. 

If a resident has a poor experience with a state office or agency, “you can’t go and use a different [state agency] next time around,” Brailsford said. “They have to use what the state provides.”

And while the state has a larger pool of landlords, the lack of an organized public review database for individual landlords or corporations gives them a similar advantage over tenants, he added.

While it won’t be possible to include every landlord in the database, Brailsford said, landlords owning large amounts of property and those who commit numerous or particularly egregious violations will likely make it onto the radar – for instance, landlords such as Pioneer Investments LLC, which R.I. Attorney General Peter F. Neronha recently sued for major health and safety violations, as well as other unfair and deceptive practices.

“We hope that this will persuade these agencies and these landlords to improve their game,” Brailsford said. “If you look bad, if people know that you don’t respond to problems, [prospective tenants are] going to be less likely to rent from you.” 

And while the database was sparked largely by tenants who wanted to report negative experiences, it will also provide value through directing tenants to reputable options, Brailsford said.

“This is not an all-negative database by any means,” he added. “People tend to report negative experiences before they report positive ones, but that isn’t the only goal here.” 

Jacquelyn Voghel is a PBN staff writer. You may reach her at Voghel@PBN.com.

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