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Hirono, Colleagues Introduce Legislation to Crack Down on Companies that Inflate Rents with Price-Fixing Algorithms

~ Lawmakers introduce legislation to speed up enforcement against companies that allow landlords to collude on rent increases ~

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) joined Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and six colleagues in introducing the Preventing the Algorithmic Facilitation of Rental Housing Cartels Act, legislation that would crack down on companies that help landlords increase rents in already high-priced markets. These services allow landlords to collude to set prices via software and price-setting algorithms. 

Reporting by ProPublica and other news outlets demonstrated how companies like RealPage and Yardi advertise their products as “property management software,” but in fact help landlords coordinate prices to increase rental rates in the same market. The companies collect real-time price and lease information and in return suggest rent increases. The result is less competition and higher rent prices for consumers. RealPage, for example, says that it increases rents for client landlords between 5% and 12%

“Landlords have been colluding by using pricing algorithms to keep rent artificially high, cheating families out of fair housing prices,” said Senator Hirono. “This bill would regulate the use of these collusive pricing algorithms and ensure that families can access the housing they deserve on fair terms.”

Specifically, the bill would: 

  • Make it unlawful for rental property owners to contract for the services of a company that coordinates rental housing prices and supply information, and designate such arrangements a per se violation of the Sherman Act; 
  • Prohibit the practice of coordinating price, supply, and other rental housing information among two or more rental property owners; 
  • Make it unlawful for two or more coordinators to merge where a merger creates an appreciable risk of materially lessening competition; and 
  • Allow individual plaintiffs to invalidate any pre-dispute arbitration agreement or pre-dispute joint action waiver that would prevent their bringing a suit under this act. 

The Preventing the Algorithmic Facilitation of Rental Housing Cartels Act of 2024 is endorsed by the American Economic Liberties Project, the National Low Income Housing Coalition, and the National Alliance to End Homelessness.

In addition to Senators Hirono, Wyden, and Welch, the legislation is cosponsored by Senators Peter Welch (D-VT), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Laphonza Butler (D-CA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).

The full text of the legislation is available here.