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2 multifamily operators settle in RealPage antitrust lawsuit

Publish Date: February 09, 2024

Written by Ben Verde

- Originally published at Inman News - Ben Verde

Pinnacle Property Management Services and AIR have settled with plaintiffs who accused them of increasing rent prices through collusion.

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As the antitrust lawsuit against the multifamily property management software RealPage moves forward, two multifamily operators also named in the suit have decided to settle.

According to a Feb. 2 court filinglawyers for the plaintiffs told the federal court in Nashville, Tennessee, that a settlement agreement had been reached with the Dallas-based multifamily operator Pinnacle Property Management Services, which is owned by real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield.

On Feb. 5, the Denver-based multifamily operator Apartment Income REIT (more commonly known as AIR) came to an undisclosed settlement with the renter plaintiffs, according to a court filing first reported on by Reuters

AIR and the plaintiffs requested a stay of deadline while they negotiated the final terms of the settlement agreement, according to the filing.

In a statement, AIR denied all liability and said it was disappointed the plaintiffs involved it in the lawsuit.

“AIR’s pricing decisions were, and continue to be, made by AIR teammates using internal information together with publicly available market data,” the statement read. “Despite the baselessness of the claims, AIR is pleased to exit the litigation early in a favorable manner.”

Cushman and Wakefield did not respond to a request for comment.

The lawsuit naming RealPage, Pinnacle and AIR was consolidated into a class action suit from more than 30 individual lawsuits accusing RealPage of using algorithmic tools to help landlords boost rents across markets, in what the plaintiffs say amounted to a “cabal” of landlords and property managers sharing sensitive rent price information with each other through RealPage.

RealPage’s request to dismiss the suit was rejected in December, with chief U.S. District Court Judge Waverly D. Crenshaw, Jr., ruling that the tenant plaintiffs had shown enough cause for RealPage to defend against their claims in court.

“It would clearly not be in any individual defendant’s economic self-interest to contribute its data to RealPage without knowing that it would benefit from its horizontal competitors doing the same,” Crenshaw wrote in his decision to allow the suit to continue.

RealPage did not respond to a request for comment on the settlements.

The lawsuit has attracted federal legislators, a group of whom introduced legislation this month that seeks to effectively outlaw the practice of algorithmically pricing rents.

The “Preventing the Algorithmic Facilitation of Rental Housing Cartels Act,” introduced by U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) and Peter Welch (D-Vermont) would make it illegal for property owners to hire any service that coordinates rental pricing services and make illegal the practice of two or more rental property owners coordinating over pricing. The press release announcing the proposed legislation specifically names RealPage and the property management technology Yardi as its targets.

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