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Necessary background: Lashon Harah (slander) is prohibited, unless it is for a to'eles (constructive purpose).

Can I say Lashon Harah that would be available to everyone, would be beneficial for some people, and I have no way of finding the people for whom it would be beneficial?

For example, let's say I am renting an apartment and my landlord is a miserable wretch. I would like to warn any future tenants about his wretchedness. However, he won't be sending any future potential tenants to me as a reference. Can I post to an anonymous internet site how terrible my landlord was, in the hopes that future potential tenants may google the address and find my review? The information would also be available to people who weren't looking into this apartment.

Would it make a difference if the site I posted to was a primarily Jewish visited site (such as Yeshiva World News or something) or if the landlord was Jewish or not?

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there was an article on this in last year's edition of Techumin –  Matt Jul 22 '14 at 13:45
As to your last line, If the landlord isn't Jewish, then there is no Issur of Lashon Harah, as Lashon Harah doesn't apply when speaking about a non-Jew (that doesn't mean that one should speak badly about non-Jews, just that it's not an Issur of Lashon Harah). –  Salmononius2 Jul 23 '14 at 4:25
@yez do you find something lacking in my answer or have suggestions to better it? –  Mefaresh May 14 at 20:28

1 Answer 1

If this warning of yours is meant to stop or prevent any loss on behalf on the possible future renters, then it is permitted to tell them Lashon Harah about your past landlord (See the Beer Mayim Chaim, Rechilus, Klal 9). See also The Rambam in Sefer Hamitzvos 297. The Chofetz Chaim also brings proofs based on the Rashbam (Bava Basra 39b), Tosafot (Sanhedrin 73a), and the Sefer Hachinuch (Mitzva 237)

However, The Chofetz Chaim qualifies, that this is only permissible if a number of other conditions are met (such as verifying the information, only altruistic intent, attempting other methods of stopping the loss, etc. see here).

However, telling over this information is only permitted when speaking to the person who stands to lose financially, but to spread it around to others who have nothing to do with the situation and do not stand to lose anything then it is forbidden. (per the opinion of Rabbi Yehuda Baum of Jerusalem)

Thus, posting online where others who are not looking into the apartment will be seeing it, is not considered a valid method of telling over the pertinent information. Rather, you must find a way to tell over this information privately only to the people who are actively looking at the apartment to rent.

If the landlord is a gentile, there is no issur of lashon harah, rather it is mitzvah to warn others of his behavior.

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Your answer provides good general information about the rules of Lashon Hara which would apply here. However, do you have any sources that specifically address my corner-case of where this is the only method that the individual has of conveying this information? They won't be encountering the potential future tenants in order to tell them. –  yEz May 14 at 21:10

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