The Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division has opened an investigation into whether rent-setting software made by Richardson-based tech company RealPage is facilitating collusion among landlords, ProPublica reported.
The inquiry is being launched as questions have arisen about a 2017 merger between RealPage and its largest pricing competitor. A source with knowledge of the matter told ProPublica that some DOJ staff raised concerns about the merger but were overridden by the political appointees of former President Donald Trump.
Congressional leaders have pushed for an investigation into RealPage in three letters to the DOJ and the Federal Trade Commission, which were sent after a ProPublica report on the software’s use in mid-October.
The letters raised concerns that RealPage’s pricing software could be pushing rents above competitive levels and allowing big landlords to coordinate their pricing in violation of federal antitrust laws.
“We are concerned that the use of this rate setting software is essentially amounts to a cartel to artificially inflate rental rates in multifamily residential buildings,” three senators said in a letter in early November. They included Mon. Amy Klobuchar, the Minnesota Democrat who chairs the Senate Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust and Consumer Rights.