Agents threaten to sue negative review site

Brendan Wong

Real estate agents have threatened to take legal action against a controversial review site that allows tenants to leave reviews of negative rental experiences.

Creator of dontrentme.com Anthony Ziebell told Real Estate Business he had recently received emails from numerous agents asking for negative reviews written by tenants to be removed, or be taken to court.

Mr Ziebell said he was disappointed by the response, as the aim of his site was to create an even playing field for tenants and agents.

“When we designed the site it was designed around how restaurant review sites work, so we feel quite safe in the way we’ve designed it in our terms and conditions - we’ve gone out of way to say don’t name landlords and things like that," he said.

“I don’t think their threats actually have a basis, otherwise all these review sites would be shut down.”

Mr Ziebell said it was a shame that agents would not work with him instead.

“From our perspective, if you’re an agent who has a nice clean record, why would you not want to say, ‘We’re good to our people’?” he said.

He added that reviews were regularly moderated and screened “as best as we can”.

Since its launch last year, dontrent.com has come under fire from real estate professionals over its credibility and the possible damage it could do to the real estate industry.

Speaking to Real Estate Business last year, business development manager at True Property Leighton Walters said the website lacked credibility as it only allowed for negative posts.

“It is going to give tenants an unwarranted reason to not rent properties and it will discriminate against owners who do actually maintain their homes," he said.

“There is nothing stopping an upset tenant or one of your competitors going on there and posting something that is completely untrue.”

CEO of the Real Estate Institute of NSW (REINSW) Tim McKibbin said the creator of the website has done themselves an injustice by not allowing for both negative and positive comments on the site.

“If they wanted to provide a genuine opportunity for consumers to draw attention to property managers, they need to have space for both negative and positive comments because it adds credibility to the entire site,” he told Real Estate Business.

Brendan Wong

Real estate agents have threatened to take legal action against a controversial review site that allows tenants to leave reviews of negative rental experiences.

Creator of dontrentme.com Anthony Ziebell told Real Estate Business he had recently received emails from numerous agents asking for negative reviews written by tenants to be removed, or be taken to court.

Mr Ziebell said he was disappointed by the response, as the aim of his site was to create an even playing field for tenants and agents.

“When we designed the site it was designed around how restaurant review sites work, so we feel quite safe in the way we’ve designed it in our terms and conditions - we’ve gone out of way to say don’t name landlords and things like that," he said.

“I don’t think their threats actually have a basis, otherwise all these review sites would be shut down.”

Mr Ziebell said it was a shame that agents would not work with him instead.

“From our perspective, if you’re an agent who has a nice clean record, why would you not want to say, ‘We’re good to our people’?” he said.

He added that reviews were regularly moderated and screened “as best as we can”.

Since its launch last year, dontrent.com has come under fire from real estate professionals over its credibility and the possible damage it could do to the real estate industry.

Speaking to Real Estate Business last year, business development manager at True Property Leighton Walters said the website lacked credibility as it only allowed for negative posts.

“It is going to give tenants an unwarranted reason to not rent properties and it will discriminate against owners who do actually maintain their homes," he said.

“There is nothing stopping an upset tenant or one of your competitors going on there and posting something that is completely untrue.”

CEO of the Real Estate Institute of NSW (REINSW) Tim McKibbin said the creator of the website has done themselves an injustice by not allowing for both negative and positive comments on the site.

“If they wanted to provide a genuine opportunity for consumers to draw attention to property managers, they need to have space for both negative and positive comments because it adds credibility to the entire site,” he told Real Estate Business.

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