WASHINGTON D.C. – District of Columbia Attorney General Brian Schwalb’s office is suing 14 of the district’s biggest landlords along with property management software company RealPage over allegations these landlords “illegally raised rents for tens of thousands of residents by collectively sharing their data with [RealPage].” Among the accused are companies that government watchdog Accountable.US has documented gross-profiteering, including AvalonBay Communities Inc, Mid-America Apartment Communities (MAA) Camden Property Trust and Equity Residential.
Accountable.US released a report earlier this year finding the six largest companies represented in the multifamily and single-family rental industry, including AvalonBay Communities Inc and MAA, reaped $4.3 billion in net income in FY 2022 — over $1.3 billion more than the previous year – as they imposed double-digit rent increases, charged excessive fees, and engaged in “abusive tactics” to evict tenants. Last year, Accountable.US documented similar greedy practices by Camden Property Trust and Equity Residential.
The nation’s largest landlords have shown their barrage of recent rent hikes were based on greed, not need, after reporting over a billion dollars in increased profits over the previous year. Now many of the same companies fueling the housing affordability crisis have allegedly stooped to illegal price-fixing and collusion to pad their profits – making matters worse for many struggling renters. It’s a reminder why Congress needs to support, not obstruct, the Biden administration’s and Congressional efforts to rein in runaway landlord greed and help Americans needlessly dealing with through-the-roof housing costs.”
Accountable.US’ Liz Zelnick
The D.C. attorney general’s lawsuit follows the Biden Administration announced actions to improve fairness in the rental market, including a Renters Bill of Rights. The U.S. Labor Department’s latest Consumer Price Index (CPI) report found shelter was “the largest contributor to the monthly all items increase, accounting for over half of the increase” in September.