The DC Attorney General has sued 14 of the city’s largest business owners, alleging that they signed agreements with a property management software company to keep rental prices high in a city with a housing affordability crisis. From a report: The lawsuit, filed today by Attorney General Brian Schwalb, focuses on multifamily landlords’ use of Texas-based firm RealPage’s software, which suggests rental prices based on a pricing algorithm. The key to those models, according to the lawsuit, is the data provided by landlords and the pressure RealPage puts on them to adhere to the rental rates derived from the code. “RealPage and the defendant landlords illegally conspired to artificially increase rents by engaging in a centralized, anti-competitive scheme, causing District residents to pay millions of dollars above fair market rates,” Schwalb said in a linked statement. to the demand.
The collaboration “amounts to a district-wide housing poster,” Schwalb said, noting that “more” than 30 percent of buildings with five or more units use RealPage software, along with 60 percent of buildings in more than 50 units. In the broader Washington-Arlington-Alexandria area, more than 90 percent of units in large buildings are subject to RealPage pricing, according to Schwalb’s office. RealPage’s rental management service, YieldStar, has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years. RealPage and the property management companies that use its software were the subject of a class-action lawsuit filed in the Southern District of California in October 2022, alleging that the “cartel” artificially inflated prices. The Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division opened an investigation in November 2022 into RealPage’s role in possible collusion between owners.