Another class-action lawsuit claims RealPage collusion

Major landlords, proptech company accused inflating student housing rents

A photo illustration of RealPage CEO Dana Jones (Getty, RealPage)
A photo illustration of RealPage CEO Dana Jones (Getty, RealPage)

Proptech company RealPage won’t be able to turn the page on its software controversy anytime soon.

A class-action lawsuit filed by a University of Washington student accused RealPage of colluding with student housing providers to inflate rent, Multifamily Dive reported. The lawsuit, filed last month, names a number of prominent multifamily landlords, including Greystar and Cushman & Wakefield.

The plaintiff alleges collusion in popular college towns, such as Ann Arbor and Gainesville. The lawsuit claimed operators had the ability to collaborate and track competitors’ rents through the RealPage platform.

“RealPage provided pricing information for student housing providers that allowed them to closely analyze their pricing in comparison to their competitors at a bedroom-by-bedroom level,” the lawsuit said.

Landlords previously calculated student housing rents to get “heads in beds” for the school year, the suit claimed, before RealPage’s platform allowed landlords to glean information from competitors.

RealPage told the outlet it “strongly” denied the allegations, but would not comment further on pending litigation.

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This is the second class-action lawsuit RealPage has faced in recent weeks. The company and seven property management firms were accused last month of forming a “cartel” to artificially inflate apartment prices above competitive levels.

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Major apartment managers including Lincoln Property Company, Sam Zell’s Equity Residential were named in the previous suit. Greystar is on the receiving end of both lawsuits.

Litigation started popping up after ProPublica reported RealPage’s YieldStar software could be inflating apartment rents and suppressing competition nationwide based on its algorithm. The platform analyzes data gathered from clients, including private information on competitors’ charges, to recommend rent for an available unit.

While landlords reserve the right to reject the suggestions, former RealPage employees said as many as 90 percent of recommendations are accepted. The company previously took credit for the platform’s role in driving apartment rents up 14.5 percent.

RealPage has been the country’s main provider of rent-setting analytics since 2017, when it merged with rival software company Lease Rent Options.

— Holden Walter-Warner