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For Immediate Release
February 16, 2005
Media Contact:
Kevin Enright 410-576-6357

CURRAN ORDERS RENTAL LISTING COMPANY TO CEASE ILLEGAL PRACTICES


Rentco Must Pay Restitution and Penalties for Advertising Fictitious Rental Properties
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 the 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 properties 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.

 

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