Federal court grants FTC's request to stop false claims on rental listing websites

By Marian Johns | Sep 21, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A federal court has granted the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) request for a temporary restraining order prohibiting two operators of rental listing websites from making false claims regarding availability of apartment units and Section 8 vouchers.

According to the FTC, the court temporarily halted brothers Steven Shayan and Kevin Shayan from continuing to falsely claim properties listed on their rental listing website, WeTakeSection 8.com, that allegedly accept Section 8 vouchers used for low-income families, elderly and disabled persons. The Shayans falsely led consumers to believe that the available listings on their website which accept Section 8 vouchers were accurate and up-to-date, in violation of the FTC Act, the FTC said. 

“Today’s housing market is historically tight, and affordable rentals are harder to find than ever," FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection director Andrew Smith said in a statement.  "Section 8 voucher recipients have it even harder. They have fewer rentals from which to choose and their vouchers expire if not used within a specified period of time.

“In this case we allege that the defendants misled consumers—including Section 8 voucher recipients—into purchasing subscriptions to worthless lists of stale apartment listings, and that the consumers then wasted their valuable time shopping for rentals that were not in fact available."  

According to the FTC, the Shayans also falsely said customers could access hundreds of thousands of up-to-date listings on their ApartmentHunterz.com and FeaturedRentals.com websites while charging for access to rental listings that the brothers alleged they had "exclusive rights" to and could not be found on other free websites. 

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