Housing Is A Human Right FBI RealPage

With FBI Raid, RealPage Scandal Heats Up for Corporate Landlords in California and Other States

In Featured, News by Patrick Range McDonald

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has raided the offices of Cortland Management, a corporate landlord that uses the controversial RealPage software program to jack up rents. It’s a clear sign that the RealPage scandal is heating up, with corporate landlords in California and other states coming under increasing scrutiny. At least six of RealPage’s corporate clients are currently spending millions to kill a pro-rent control ballot measure in California.

The nationwide scandal has been unfolding since 2022, when ProPublica found that a cartel of corporate landlords used a RealPage software program to work together, possibly illegally, to wildly inflate rents in California and across the country. Since then, there have been federal and state antitrust lawsuits as well as a Department of Justice investigation. 

California tenants are among the parties that have sued RealPage and its corporate clients.

In 2022, Housing Is A Human Right broke the story that RealPage contributed $500,000 to stop California’s Proposition 21, a 2020 pro-rent control ballot measure. In addition, a number of RealPage’s clients, including Essex Property Trust, Equity Residential, and AvalonBay Communities, shelled out tens of millions in campaign cash to kill both Prop 21 and Proposition 10, a 2018 pro-rent control ballot measure in California.

An exclusive Housing Is A Human Right investigation found that 10 of the largest corporate landlords in the country have contributed more than $13 million to stop California’s Justice for Renters Act – a November ballot measure that seeks to end statewide rent control restrictions and allow cities to expand rent regulations. Out of those 10 corporate landlords, six are mired in the RealPage scandal, having been sued and/or investigated. They include Greystar, AvalonBay Communities, Equity Residential, Essex Property Trust, Camden Property Trust, and UDR.

The California Apartment Association is carrying out Big Real Estate’s campaign to kill the Justice for Renters Act, and California YIMBY has joined the scandal-plagued corporate landlords to stop the pro-rent control measure.

Housing Is A Human Right and its parent organization, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, led a broad coalition of housing justice organizations, labor unions, and social justice groups to pass Prop 10 and Prop 21. HHR and AHF are now sponsoring the Justice for Renters Act.

In addition to trying to stop the Justice for Renters Act, those 10 corporate landlords and the California Apartment Association are pushing forward a statewide ballot measure, misleadingly called Protect Patients Now, to silence AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s housing justice advocacy work. It essentially aims to kill AHF’s participation in the democratic process.

Campaign consultants Bearstar Strategies, DeBoo Communications, and Forward Observer are working for the scandal-plagued corporate landlords to kill the Justice for Renters Act and pass the anti-democratic AHF measure. The Messina Group, led by Jim Messina, is also working on the initiative to silence AHF.

Now it’s been reported that the FBI raided the offices of Cortland Management in Atlanta, Georgia. The corporate landlord operates 85,000 units in 13 states and uses the RealPage software program. Reporter Matt Stoller noted that it’s a sign that the “Department of Justice is clearly deep in an investigation of RealPage and its cartel.”

Will corporate landlords Greystar, Equity Residential, and Essex Property Trust be raided next by the FBI? If so, what will that mean for the battle in California to pass the Justice for Renters Act and to stop the anti-democratic AHF measure? One thing is certain: the RealPage scandal isn’t going away any time soon.

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