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Looking for an apartment? Many of us start looking online, trusting that the rental sites give us good information. But what if they don’t, and then charge for it? That’s just what the FTC says happened in its most recent case related to housing.

What's the case about? Apartment Hunters, Inc. operates rental listing websites, including,, and The sites charge fees, usually around $50, to see their rental listings. They promise that listings are accurate, up-to-date and available—and that you’ll find housing quickly. WeTakeSection8 targets low-income, disabled, and older people looking for affordable housing, while the other websites offer general rental listings—all for a fee.

But, according to the FTC, Apartment Hunters’ claims were false. Not only could people not find housing quickly on any of the sites but, the FTC says, most listings on were not even available and did not accept Section 8 housing vouchers. That cost people money and time they didn’t have—since those housing vouchers are only good for a short time.

In response to the FTC’s complaint, the Court ordered the company to stop selling subscriptions for Section 8 rental listings and stop lying about what the sites provide.

How can you avoid rental websites that could cost you?

  • Start with free rental listings. You can find them online.
  • Check it out. Before you give money or your information to anyone, do a search on their name plus the word “complaint” or “scam.”
  • For help finding landlords that accept housing vouchers, contact a HUD-certified counselor. The U.S. Department of Housing and Development (HUD) has a list of approved housing counseling agencies that can help you find subsidized rental housing in your area.
  • Spot a scam? Report it to the FTC.

And remember that housing authorities do not charge fees. A housing authority will never ask you to wire money or pay with a prepaid card. Those are sure signs of a scam.

For more information, read Rental Listing Scams and watch our video on renting an apartment.


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The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

  • We won’t post off-topic comments, repeated identical comments, or comments that include sales pitches or promotions.
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Is anybody home
September 17, 2018
How these services get listings is they look at newspapers and other ads for rentals. Then they copy those listing and call them from time to time to see if they are still available. Nothing spectacular or worth the money they charge.
September 17, 2018
What is the average wait time, from start to occupancy, in getting a Section 8 rental? Thanks
Sam the man
September 17, 2018
our landlord section 8 increases our rent evry year....when th HUD regulations states : rent can only increase when income goes UP by $ 200 a months. we senior didnot get a big increase in our SS checks. Can you help us?
September 17, 2018
"since those housing vouchers are only good for a short time." I have a voucher and this statement seems incorrect - ?
Bothered by calls
September 17, 2018
Thanks for this info. A different problem targeting seniors: Telephone calls lying that they have information about one's problem with chronic pain (claiming falsely either that I filled out a form, or a relative told them or . . . or . . . or . . . ) -- e.g. chronic back, neck, knee pain. Many variations. Or they ASK, Do you have chronic pain? (I say I will discuss any of my health concerns with my primary care physician, NOT with a stranger calling me against my wishes.) Some even pretend to represent Medicare and say they want to provide you with information about your Medicare. Basically, they are trying to sell braces and devices (for the 80% Medicare will cover). I told AARP that I did NOT want my contact information shared with any of their affiliates. Was told that it would take SIX WEEKS for that wish to go through. And then the phone calls INCREASED in frequency and persistence. I've told each one that I am on a DO NOT CALL list, do not want these calls, that if I have any such needs I will go through my primary care physician -- but they keep right on calling me. It is even a health hazard to get these calls, especially when I am expecting an important call, because rushing to the phone can CAUSE a fall and once it actually did.
September 18, 2018
HUD housing voucher in Ventura county?
September 18, 2018
Just like the Section 8 rental assistance program has a minimum rent of $25.00 for indigent poor people; but once you've got expenses like medical doctors', etc... You now have gone into a category where your rent will soon turn into 30% of your income. For some on Social Security Supplemental Income or Disability Insurance, that means, (when their rent should DEFINITELY BE LESS THAN 30% OF THEIR SUBSISTENCE INCOME,) THEY PAY MORE THAN WHAT THEY SHOULD CLOSE TO THE MINIMUM. Why don't the democrats', (that try to convince you how wonderful government programs' are,) ADMIT THEY WANT TO RENT GOUGE THE BELOW THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES POVERTY GUIDELINES...POOR INDIGENT PEOPLE!
September 18, 2018
So will the FTC or another Government agency actually police this court order? There are thousands of voucher holders in NY alone who are struggling with finding an apartment. Some are desperate enough to turn to this fradulent website in hope that they can find somewhere permanent. As of September 18, 2018, these websites are still selling subscriptions! Again, is there an actual action against these companies other than a verbal telling them off?
September 19, 2018
I know this is difficult, but do not answer calls if you don't recognize the caller's number. Even better, get a phone that has call blocking and make sure to enter your contact names and phone numbers. Follow your phone's directions to block unknown callers. It's lot of work at the outset, but it's worth it in the long run. Keep your contact info up to date. Every now and then you'll have to answer a number you're not sure of, but don't engage them in conversation--it's a waste of time and effort!