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DC Attorney General Sues RealPage and Landlords for Price-Fixing Scheme

The District of Columbia’s attorney general has filed a lawsuit against RealPage, a property management platform, and 14 of the city’s largest apartment building landlords, alleging that they conspired to artificially inflate rental prices in violation of U.S. antitrust law.

RealPage Accused of Facilitating Anticompetitive Behavior

According to the lawsuit, filed in D.C. Superior Court on Wednesday, RealPage provides a revenue management software that allows landlords to set rents based on factors such as supply and demand, occupancy rates, and competitor prices. However, the lawsuit claims that RealPage also enables landlords to share their pricing strategies and coordinate their rent increases, creating a “cartel” that harms consumers and reduces competition.

The lawsuit alleges that RealPage’s software is used to set the rents at more than 50,000 units in the District, which represents a sizable portion of its available housing. The lawsuit also names 14 landlords that use RealPage’s software, including Equity Residential, AvalonBay Communities, Bozzuto Group, and Greystar Real Estate Partners.

The lawsuit seeks triple damages and other relief to restore competitive conditions in the District’s rental market. The attorney general’s office said that District residents had paid “millions of dollars above fair market prices” due to the alleged scheme.

DC Attorney General Sues RealPage and Landlords for Price-Fixing Scheme

RealPage Denies Wrongdoing and Vows to Fight the Case

RealPage, which was acquired by private equity firm Thoma Bravo in 2021, has denied any wrongdoing and said it would vigorously defend against the lawsuit. The company said that its software helps landlords optimize their revenues and occupancy rates, and that it does not facilitate or encourage any anticompetitive behavior.

“In seeking to draw a causal connection between revenue management software like ours and increases in market-wide rents, this copycat suit repeats the inaccuracies of predecessor cases,” RealPage spokesperson Jennifer Bowcock said in a statement. “The complaint and others like it are wrong on both the facts and the law and we will vigorously defend against it.”

RealPage is also facing more than two dozen private civil lawsuits that are consolidated in Nashville, Tennessee, federal court. The plaintiffs in those cases are tenants who claim that they have been overcharged for rent due to RealPage’s software. The company has moved to dismiss those cases, arguing that they lack merit and standing.

D.C. Attorney General Collaborates with Private Law Firm

The D.C. attorney general’s office filed the lawsuit in collaboration with Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, a U.S.-based plaintiffs’ law firm that specializes in antitrust litigation. Cohen Milstein and other private firms have also worked with the office on other civil lawsuits, such as the ones against Facebook and Amazon for alleged antitrust violations.

The contract between the attorney general’s office and Cohen Milstein states that the law firm is entitled to 50% of any net recovery in the litigation, but no compensation if the case fails. The attorney general’s office said that it has the authority to hire outside counsel to assist with complex cases that require additional resources and expertise.

Attorney General Brian Schwalb said in a statement that he is committed to protecting consumers from unfair and illegal practices in the District’s housing market. “In a truly competitive market, one would expect competitors to keep their pricing strategies confidential — especially if they believe those strategies provide a competitive edge,” he said. “Instead, these landlords conspired to share information, limit supply, and drive up rents using RealPage’s revenue management platform.”

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