State authorities have revoked the licenses of two home-finding businesses in Burbank and Glendale that were accused of ripping off dozens of renters.
The California Department of Real Estate took the action against Quality Rentals and Properties Unlimited, both prepaid rental listing services.
In its order dated Dec. 6, the real estate department adopted the decision of an administrative law judge who said the licenses should be rescinded.
The law judge, Samuel D. Reyes, cited the cases of six customers whose promised refunds were refused or delayed.
Properties Unlimited operated in Glendale in 1993 and 1994, and Quality Rentals did business in Burbank from 1994 until last summer. Both firms were run by Vickie L. Cardoza, who could not be reached Friday for comment.
Randy Brendia, the real estate department's regional manager in Los Angeles, said the license revocations were necessary even though the businesses have closed.
Cardoza and her lawyer had appeared before Reyes at a hearing in October to defend the licenses. Without the action, Brendia said, Cardoza would "still have a valid license" should she decide to go back into business.
However, the lack of a license is not always an impediment. In fact, in a separate case this week the real estate department named Cardoza as a principal in Global Management Inc., a Sherman Oaks rental listing firm that the agency cited for operating without a license.
Such companies charge a fee, typically $150, to provide renters with supposedly exclusive lists of rental properties, and promise a refund to any customer who can't find a suitable home. But renters frequently complain that the units are either unavailable, substandard or not as advertised, and that they get the runaround when they try to get their money back.