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Watchdog Urges Colorado Investigation into Potential Rent Price Collusion

 |  July 7, 2024

The president of a nonpartisan corporate watchdog has called on Colorado authorities to investigate potential collusion to artificially inflate rent prices across the Front Range from five prominent property management companies.

Caroline Ciccone, president of Accountable.US, addressed a letter to Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser on Monday, urging his office to scrutinize the actions of these companies, which collectively manage thousands of rental units in the region. Ciccone’s request follows a lawsuit filed by District of Columbia Attorney General Brian Schwalb, alleging that the companies illegally coordinated to raise rent prices by sharing data with the property management software company RealPage.

In the D.C. lawsuit, RealPage is accused of using an algorithm to artificially increase prices for over 50,000 units managed by a consortium of corporate landlords. This alleged coordination and data-sharing constitute a violation of D.C.’s antitrust laws.

The companies implicated in the lawsuit — Mid-America Apartments, AvalonBay Communities, Equity Residential, Camden Property Trust, and UDR — also have significant operations in Colorado. As of the end of March, Mid-America Apartments managed 1,202 units in Denver, AvalonBay Communities managed 1,539 units, Camden Property Trust had 2,873 units, Equity Residential oversaw 2,505 units, and UDR operated 218 units.

While Accountable.US has not provided direct evidence of collusion in Colorado, its suspicions are based on patterns observed in other regions. Ciccone’s letter emphasizes the potential for similar misconduct in Colorado, given the companies’ extensive presence in the state.

“Your office has the ability to determine whether these companies also stooped to illegal price-fixing and collusion in Colorado to further pad their profits, as they allegedly have elsewhere — and power to hold them accountable if they did,” Ciccone stated in her letter to AG Weiser.

The call for investigation comes at a time when rent prices are a significant concern for many Colorado residents, with ongoing debates about housing affordability and fair market practices.

Source: Montrose Press