Quinovic property management group has courted controversy again after being accused of using fake reviews on their Facebook site.
The company's Te Aro franchise has a "5 out of 5" rating on Facebook, despite its positive reviews coming from landlords and tenants with profiles that either have no photo or photos appearing elsewhere under different names or as stock images.
It comes after the Te Aro franchise earlier drew the ire of renters' associations last August when it posted an ad on its Facebook page stating: "Your tenants may hate us. You will love us!"
Another ad at the time showed a photo of two people clinking glasses underneath a tagline that asked landlords if they were financing their tenants' social lives.
The ads were eventually pulled after Quinovic's head office intervened, saying they did not conform to the company's "brand standards".
Company chief operating officer Paul Chapman said he also would be looking into the latest complaint against the Te Aro franchise.
"We have recently become aware of this claim and are actively seeking to determine the facts," he said.
"When we have more information, we will be in a position to make a further statement."
It comes as one Facebook user named Burt Baker accused the company of using fake profiles.
This included one alleged fake landlord named Jerrod Hayes, who wrote Quinovic was "a breath of fresh air for my property as I was really struggling to get things right on my own".
However, Hayes' photo also appears as a stock image of a teacher on a Getty Images site.
Another alleged fake reviewer called Eva Smith, claimed Quinovic helped her find a great property to rent that was ideal for her family, lifestyle and budget.
"The property manager was very kind during the search and didn't take much time to give me a result that matches my needs," she wrote.
However, Smith's profile picture also appears on another website in which her name is Karen Comas.
Other users writing reviews on Quinovic's page also have Facebook profiles with no photos and no friends.
Real Estate Institute of NZ chief executive Bindi Norwell said "stories such as this" highlight why her lobby body had been calling for the regulation of property managers.
"If the property management industry was regulated, property managers would have a code of conduct that they must adhere to and behaviour such as these alleged fake Facebook reviews could have them potentially removed from the industry," she said.
She said the Fair Trading Act prohibited businesses engaging in "misleading or deceptive conduct", while the Advertising Standards Authority Code also required ads to be legal, decent and honest.
Norwell said the lack of regulations governing property managers meant there were no protections in place for customers, such as checks on money being held in a trust account and the establishment of a disputes resolution process or regulatory compliance standard.
"While there are many amazing property managers out there, their high standards are being undermined by others who don't have the same ethics," she said.
"If the Government really wants to help renters, it should regulate the property management industry."