COVID-19 and Apartment Reviews: What You Need to Know

by Mar 23, 2020

As a result of COVID-19, Google My Business and Yelp are now limiting users’ ability to review businesses, including apartment communities. 

These policies started to go into effect on Friday, March 20. They allow Google to reprioritize and Yelp to help protect local businesses from negative attacks in connection to COVID-19, as well as protect review site employees.

Multifamily-specific review sites like Apartments.com and ApartmentRatings appear to be operating as normal as of Monday morning. 

Read on for more details on these changes and how they can affect your apartment community.

Google My Business Reviews

Google is not publishing any new reviews, review responses, or new Q&A content until further notice. A statement released by the company reads:

“During the unprecedented COVID-19 situation, we are taking steps to protect the health of our team members and reduce the need for people to come into our offices. As a result, there may be some temporary limitations and delays in support as we prioritize critical services.”

During this time, Google’s support team will prioritize reviewing new listings, claims and verifications for critical health-related businesses. 

Newly created Google My Business listings

Apartment communities that create new Google My Business listings should expect a delay in these appearing online as Google’s support team prioritizes verifying listings for critical health-related businesses. 

Yelp reviews

Yelp, on the other hand, is still allowing reviews, but it has put a zero tolerance policy in place for any negative reviews that mention COVID-19 in connection to local businesses. 

In a statement, the company says these guidelines are meant to “protect local businesses from reputational harm related to these extraordinary circumstances.”

For example, Yelp will not allow any claims in reviews of contracting COVID-19 from a business or its employees, or any negative reviews about a business being closed as a result of the virus. 

Reviews like these that are flagged will be reviewed by human content moderators, and ones that don’t meet the new standards will be removed and will not count toward star ratings for businesses.

What Respage is Doing to Help

We are and will continue to release new features to help assist with these changes. Our customers can continue to send us any updates they would like us to make for their social and reputation sites such as changes in hours of operation. We will continue to monitor the situation, and we will be ready to help apartment communities respond to new Google reviews when they go online. We will also flag any negative Yelp reviews that our multifamily clients receive in connection with the virus.