FTC Shuts Down Websites Claiming To Have “Exclusive” Access To Section 8 Rental Listings
The Federal Trade Commission shut down a series of real estate websites in California that targeted Section 8 voucher recipients. The FTC claims the sites falsely promised “exclusive” access to rental listings in exchange for a monthly or weekly subscription fee.
Steven and Kevin (Kaveh) Shayan owned four companies and operated a series of real estate websites. These sites offered prospective renters hundreds of thousands of accurate and available Section 8 listings. However, prospective renters had to pay a subscription fee to the sites.
The FTC claims that the companies actually offered out-of-date listings and from properties that did not accept Section 8 vouchers. The Shayans operated LLCs under the names Apartment Hunters and Real Estate Data Solutions. They also ran Rental Home Listings and UAB Apartment Hunters. they promoted their companies on their websites, WeTakeSection8.com, ApartmentHunterz.com, and FeaturedRentals.com.
The housing market is historically tight and affordable rentals in places like California are harder to find.
Section 8 voucher recipients have it even harder because they have fewer rentals options. Additionally, their vouchers expire if not used within a specified period of time.
The FTC alleges the websites charged $49 for two months of access and $14.99 for a weekly subscription. The subscription included contact information for the property managers of the rental listings on the sites.
The website promised renters access to exclusive rental listings that weren’t available anywhere else. The Federal Trade Commission alleged that those claims were false or unsubstantiated.
The agency also noted that California DRE revoked Apartment Hunters’ business license in 2015. However, the company has continued to operate since then without a license.
The FTC also requested the federal court to issue a temporary restraining order against the Shayan brothers and their four companies.
You can read the complaint below:
[pdf-embedder url=”https://mfi-miami.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Shayan-Complaint.pdf” title=”Shayan Complaint”]