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For Immediate Release
January 28, 2003
Contact: Sean Caine, 410-576-6357

CURRAN CHARGES BALTIMORE RENTAL LISTINGS COMPANY WITH VIOLATING CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT

Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announced today that his office’s Consumer Protection Division has charged a Baltimore company with unfair and deceptive practices in connection with its offer of rental properties to consumers. The company, Rentco Publishing, LLC, 5726 Harford Road, Baltimore, formerly known as Rentoday, and the company’s owners, Lisa and David Werner, are each charged with advertising, but failing to provide, rental properties to consumers.

Rentco ran newspaper advertisements offering apartments and houses throughout the Baltimore region for attractive rents. When consumers contacted Rentco, instead of being offered leases, they were told they needed to pay between $75 and $85 for a rental listing service to get information on the advertised properties. Consumers who purchased Rentco’s rental listing service were unable to locate houses for rent in the areas that Rentco advertised, or for rents as low as advertised.

The Consumer Protection Division has charged Rentco and its owners with false and deceptive advertising in connection with their advertisements of rental properties and sale of their rental listing service. In support of the charges, the Division alleges that the properties that Rentco advertised did not actually exist and that Rentco’s listing service was ineffective. The Division also charged Rentco with violating the Consumer Protection Act by representing that its services are 100% guaranteed, yet making it impossible for consumers who were dissatisfied with the service to obtain refunds. The Division estimates thousands of consumers may have been harmed by Rentco’s practices.

"When a business offers an apartment or a house for rent, it must have the ability to actually rent the property," said Curran.

The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division has requested an order requiring Rentco and its owners to cease its unfair and deceptive practices and return the payments the business collected from consumers. Additionally, the Consumer Protection Division is seeking to have Rentco pay its investigation costs and a civil penalty for each of Rentco’s violations of law.

A public hearing on the charges is scheduled to commence on Tuesday, March 25, 2003 at 9:30 a.m. at the Office of Administrative Hearings, 11101 Gilroy Road in Hunt Valley, Maryland. Consumers who wish to file a complaint about Rentco or Rentoday can contact the Consumer Protection Division at (410) 528-8662.

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