The Division of Justice’s Antitrust Division has reportedly opened up an investigation into RealPage, the actual property know-how firm accused of contributing to higher-than-normal hire costs. In response to a report from ProPublica, the DOJ is trying into whether or not the corporate’s rent-setting software program permits landlords to coordinate and lift hire throughout the nation.
This comes after final month’s report from ProPublica, which revealed that RealPage’s YieldStar software program makes use of an algorithm to “assist landlords push the best potential rents on tenants.” As famous by ProPublica, YieldStar’s algorithm makes use of the personal rental charges gathered from the landlords and property managers which are its shoppers. YieldStar then repackages that data in an anonymized kind to make rental charge suggestions to its customers, not directly giving landlords entry to their opponents’ pricing.
The “charge setting software program primarily quantities to a cartel to artificially inflate rental charges in multifamily residential buildings”
ProPublica’s report states that the algorithm’s design has “raised questions amongst actual property and authorized specialists about whether or not RealPage has birthed a brand new type of cartel that enables the nation’s largest landlords to not directly coordinate pricing, doubtlessly in violation of federal legislation.” These specialists have additionally raised considerations with the RealPage consumer group, a web based discussion board that lets condo managers who use the service talk with each other.
Lease costs have elevated by 20 p.c since early 2020, in keeping with The New York Occasions. Whereas knowledge from Residence Record signifies that rental costs have decreased barely over the previous couple of months, it’s nonetheless up by 5.7 p.c 12 months over 12 months, and a report from CNBC signifies that hire costs will proceed to pattern upward by means of 2023. RealPage is reportedly conscious that its software program helps to drive up hire, ProPublica studies, and it discourages landlords from negotiating with tenants.
In 2017, the DOJ requested extra data from RealPage when the corporate introduced its plans to accumulate Rainmaker Group, a competing actual property software program firm that created the rent-setting software program, Lease Lease Choices (LRO). In response to ProPublica, Steve Winn, RealPage’s CEO on the time, stated the $300 million acquisition would enable the service to extend the variety of items it priced from 1.5 million to three million.
A number of US lawmakers have already known as on federal companies to look into ProPublica’s findings. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Richard Durbin (D-IL), and Cory Booker (D-NJ) wrote a letter to US assistant lawyer normal Jonathan Kanter, to specific their considerations about RealPage, noting that the “charge setting software program primarily quantities to a cartel to artificially inflate rental charges in multifamily residential buildings.” Klobuchar later despatched out a tweet stating that she’s “asking the DOJ to research.”
In the meantime, 17 representatives, together with Jesús García (D-IL), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Cori Bush (D-MO), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), and others adopted up with a letter urging the Federal Commerce Fee and Division of Justice to research RealPage. “Our constituents can’t afford to have anticompetitive — and doubtlessly per se unlawful — practices drive up costs for important items and companies at a time when a full-time, minimum-wage wage doesn’t present a employee sufficient cash to hire a two-bedroom condo in any metropolis throughout this nation,” the lawmakers wrote.
Senators Bernie Sanders (D-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) additionally posed a lot of questions to RealPage CEO Dana Jones final week, and are giving RealPage till December 1st to reply. Moreover, RealPage is going through a lot of class motion lawsuits accusing the corporate of elevating hire. The DOJ nor RealPage instantly responded to The Verge’s request for remark.