DC sues more than a dozen of District’s largest landlords, alleging widespread rent collusion

The D.C. Attorney General’s office has filed a lawsuit against 14 of the District’s largest landlords and property management software company RealPage, alleging they used the technology to illegally raise rents for thousands of residents.

The lawsuit alleges collusion by collectively delegating price-setting authority to RealPage, whose technology uses a pricing algorithm to inflate prices.

Dallas-based RealPage’s property management software is used by thousands of apartment building, single-family and vacation housing rental companies.

The companies artificially inflated rents for more than 50,000 apartments across the District, costing renters millions of dollars, according to a release from Attorney General Brian Schwalb’s office.

The landlords named in the suit are among the biggest names in multifamily and real estate investment:

  • Avenue5 Residential LLC
  • AvalonBay Communities Inc.
  • Bell Partners Inc.
  • Bozzuto Management Company
  • Camden Summit Partnership L.P.
  • Equity Residential Management LLC
  • Gables Residential Services Inc.
  • GREP Atlantic LLC
  • Highmark Residential LLC
  • JBG Smith Properties LP
  • Mid-America Apartments LP
  • Paradigm Management II LP
  • UDR Inc.
  • William C. Smith & Co. Inc.

The lawsuit accuses the landlords of coordinating to forgo competitive prices and share sensitive company data, and delegate rent-setting authority to RealPage. The suit also alleges that the named landlords worked to recruit additional landlords into rent collusion.

In the District, more than 30% of apartments in smaller apartment buildings and 60% of apartments in large apartment buildings are priced with RealPage’s software, the D.C. Attorney General’s Office said.

The lawsuit seeks to stop RealPage and the landlords from engaging in anticompetitive practices to artificially inflate rent prices. It calls for the appointment of a corporate monitor, and seeks financial compensation for the District and residents whose rents were inflated.

The full complaint is posted online.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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