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From Antitrust Law Daily, September 17, 2018

FTC wins TRO against rental housing websites over Section 8 housing claims

By Jody Coultas, J.D.

The federal district court in Los Angeles has issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting numerous California rental housing companies from using false or unsubstantiated claims in the marketing of online rental listings offered through their websites, the agency announced today (FTC v. Apartment Hunters, Inc., FTC File No. 172 3007, Civil Action No. 8:18-CV-01636-AG-DFM).

The FTC alleged that brothers Steven and Kevin (Kaveh) Shayan advertised on their housing website that purportedly accepts Section 8 vouchers for low-income families, elderly, and disabled persons. The websites, WeTakeSection8.com, ApartmentHunterz.com and FeaturedRentals.com, claimed to provide accurate and up-to-date listings that are approved for Section 8 housing vouchers, but the FTC alleged that most of the listed properties either are not available or do not accept Section 8 housing vouchers. The defendants also allegedly violated the FTC Act by falsely claiming that consumers would find housing quickly and that the defendants had exclusive rights to list rental properties that consumers could not find on free websites. Consumers typically have paid $49 for two months of access to contact information for property managers of rental listings, and $14.99 for a weekly subscription.

The September 11 complaint also named the following companies as defendants: Apartment Hunters, Inc., also doing business as WeTakeSection8.com, ApartmentHunterz.com, and FeaturedRentals.com; Real Estate Data Solutions, Inc.; Rental Home Listings Inc.; and UAB Apartment Hunters LT. The California Department of Real Estate revoked defendant Apartment Hunters, Inc.’s business license in 2015, but it has continued to operate without a license.

Companies: Apartment Hunters, Inc. d/b/a WeTakeSection8.com, ApartmentHunterz.com, and FeaturedRentals.com; Real Estate Data Solutions, Inc.; Rental Home Listings Inc.; UAB Apartment Hunters LT

MainStory: TopStory Advertising ConsumerProtection FederalTradeCommissionNews

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