February 16, 2005
CURRAN ORDERS RENTAL LISTING COMPANY TO CEASE ILLEGAL
Rentco Must Pay Restitution and Penalties for Advertising Fictitious
Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr.’s Consumer Protection
Division has ordered a Baltimore company, Rentco Publishing, L.L.C.,
5726 Harford Road, Baltimore, formerly known as “Rentoday,” and
its owner, David Werner, 581 Central Drive, Lake Orion, Michigan,
to cease offering illegal rental referral services. The company
was ordered to pay $264,000 in restitution to consumers harmed
by its practices, as well as $365,718 in civil penalties and costs.
Rentco advertised apartments and houses for rent at attractive
prices in Baltimore newspapers. When consumers contacted Rentco
to rent the advertised properties, they were told they needed
to pay $75 to $85 for a rental listing service, through which
properties were available. However, consumers who paid for this
rental listing service were unable to rent the advertised properties.
In fact, the Division found that consumers were unable to rent
houses in the areas that Rentco advertised in the newspapers
or at rents that were as attractive as advertised because those
did not exist. Rather, they were made up by Rentco in order to
get consumers to pay Rentco’s fees. The Division also found
that Rentco’s rental listing service did not offer exclusive
listings as Rentco had claimed, but rather was composed of ads
taken from local newspapers.
The Division found Rentco’s advertising to be deceptive and
ordered it to stop offering properties for rent that did not exist
or that it did not have the actual ability to rent. The Division
also found Rentco’s 100% satisfaction guarantee and refund
policies to be deceptive because the company made it impossible
for consumers who were dissatisfied with its service to obtain
refunds. The Division estimates more than 3,500 consumers were
harmed by Rentco’s practices.
Rentco preyed on people who were having difficulty finding affordable
rental properties,” said Curran. “When a business offers
an apartment or a house for rent, it must have the ability to actually
rent the property, at the advertised price.”
The Division has ordered Rentco and its owner to return $264,000
in payments it collected from consumers. Consumers with complaints
against either Rentco or David Warner should contact the Consumer
Protection Division at 410-576-6569.