A property management business has been thrust into the spotlight after racy advertising saw it booted out of an industry body.
Coral Sea Property Management has lost its Real Estate Institute of Queensland (REIQ) accreditation following controversy surrounding signage used in a marketing campaign - one of which included a billboard showcasing Bill Clinton’s former mistress, Monica Lewinsky, and the caption “Last agent leave a bad taste in your mouth?” (picture below)
The REIQ said it had received a number of complaints from Townsville-based members in relation to the advertisements.
In a letter provided to Residential Property Manager, Coral Sea Property Management responded to the REIQ and the threat of membership termination.
“I must say I am surprised and more than a little disappointed with the REIQ’s response to this matter and the continued heavy-handedness with which it has been handled,” Coral Sea Property Management principal Shaun Podbury said.
“I might also remind you that the only reason this matter has escalated to a public debate was because it was raised directly with the Townsville Bulletin by your local REIQ branch representative who also made multiple ill-informed inflammatory comments.
“Whilst I understand our promotion and marketing may not be to everyone’s taste, any inference that, by the use of two signs some people allegedly find offensive, our office is somehow 'unprofessional' or not consistent with good agency practice is ludicrous,” he added.
Mr Podbury said allegations by the REIQ about a sign featuring a lady’s exposed rear were untrue and “raises further concerns as to whether the REIQ is fully informed or just reacting to noise generated again by our unhappy competitors”.
REIQ chairman Rob Honeycombe said the institute would never shy away from enforcing its strict professional standards.
“All REIQ members have to adhere to our expectation of high professional standards, they realise that when they sign up,” he told Residential Property Manager.
“When there’s a clear breach of those standards, we have to act. That’s what our members expect and demand and in this case there was a high volume of complaints from our local members.
“We investigated the matter and found the conduct didn’t reflect best practice and wasn’t in the best interests of our members.
“Our constitution gives the board the authority to expel members from the institute when they behave in a way that is not in line with our expected professional standards.
“We don’t want to stifle innovation and creativity - they’re things we encourage among our members - but we have to draw the line when our professional code of conduct is blatantly flouted,” he added.
In an email sent out to his clients Mr Podbury wrote, “It seems that by sticking up for the consumer and poking a little fun at the poor service offered by other agents we have again upset the corporate suits.
“The REIQ is an industry body that represents agents not you, our customer.
“You are protected by the Queensland Office of Fair Trading, who are responsible for protecting your rights.
“Fair Trading is also responsible for all licensing and regulation within the real estate industry, and Coral Sea Property is of course fully licensed and compliant,” he added.
Source: Coral Sea Property Management