DOJ Investigating Corporate Landlords for Criminal Conspiracy

Lawsuits allege corporate landlords used property management software RealPage to cooperatively raise rents. The impact on the Atlanta rental market appears to be broad enough that the Feds are investigating for potential criminal conspiracy.

2 minute read

June 9, 2024, 5:00 AM PDT

By Mary Hammon @marykhammon

For rent sign with blurry house in background

zimmytws / For Rent sign

As if there weren’t already enough forces driving unaffordably high rental rates, which have jumped by 30 percent over the last four years, Popular Information reports that the Department of Justice is investigating another potential cause: a “massive criminal conspiracy among large landlords” to “artificially increase rents through collusion.”

According to reporter Judd Legum, the FBI conducted a raid on a major corporate landlord based in Atlanta called Cortland Management, which “appears to be part of a Department of Justice criminal investigation, first reported by Politico in March. “The investigation centers around the use of RealPage, advanced property management software used by many corporate landlords,” which a lawsuit file by the State of Arizona in February claims puts significant pressure on landlords — who are supposed to be competitors — to outsource pricing authority and adopt RealPage’s prices rather than competing with one another. “The system has resulted in large rent increases that were previously unthinkable, according to RealPage's own executives,” Legum reports.

So why is the FBI focusing on Cortland Management in Atlanta? The agency hasn’t said, but a class-action lawsuits revealed “landlords using RealPage account for over 53% of the multifamily rental market in the Atlanta Submarket” and the use of RealPage in Atlanta has coincided with a 56 percent rental increase since 2016, Legum reports. RealPage also controls large market shares in Baltimore, Charlotte, Houston, and Miami.

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