How Trulia misleads Chicago renters

Rental apartment listings at Trulia surface a bright “Contact Property” link that badly misleads renters.

When you submit information via the link, you may or may not be contacting the property. If the property’s in Chicago Trulia may be connecting you to one of the sleazy rental services on YoChicago’s do-not-call list.

Trulia could easily require rental advertisers to state their relationship to the property (e.g., broker, owner , management company) and surface that critical piece of information to renters. Trulia’s failure to do that places the responsibility for the misrepresentation that occurs when a rental service advertises a listing squarely on Trulia.

There’s heavy irony in Trulia’s warning, directly below the “Contact Property” button, to “Beware of rental scams!”

The odds of finding an apartment on Trulia that you won’t find elsewhere are astronomically high. You will find rental services who can’t or won’t show you the properties they advertise there. Beware of wasting your time on Trulia.

Added 3/25: A Senior Manager of Trulia Rentals reached out promptly this morning with the following information:

We take listing quality and the information we receive very seriously.

I would like to connect with you and share what we are up to. We recently launched a beta feature in NYC to address similar issues. I wanted to share what that would look like for Chicago, and see if you think a similar program would work there.

When we did this in NYC we lowered duplicate inventory by 50% and fraud/bait and switch claims by almost 90%. Even still, NYC is getting more updates and tweaks to improve the data quality.

It speaks well of Trulia that they’re making these efforts. I’ll report again after I discuss the issue with Trulia in a call we’re working to schedule. Here are screen caps of the changes in effect for New York properties at Trulia, which clarify for renters who they are contacting:

Let’s hope that Zillow follows Trulia’s lead and cleans up the misleading links on Zillow ads.

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