James Nelson has conducted a detailed analysis of the increase in rental rates for two segments of the housing market in Washington State. He compared rents in three counties where artificial intelligence technology (RealPage) was deployed (King, Spokane, and Thurston Counties) to those where it was not (Franklin, Yakima, and Walla Walla).
Over the period of his study (2013-2018), James found that rents increased almost 90% in the counties where AI technology is being deployed (including increases of 82% in King, 96% in Spokane, and 110% in Thurston). In the counties where RealPage was not in use, the rent increases were far more modest (10% in Yakima, 6% in Franklin and 5% in Walla Walla).
The legal and policy implications of these findings are significant. At this point, it would be appropriate and prudent for public officials and independent journalists to open an investigation into the major property managers who use RealPage in Washington. The public needs answers about their use of IT Technology to maximize rental rates and select renters.
Potential investigations could include an antitrust/price-fixing investigation into the use of AI Technology to set rental rates and a consumer protection/privacy rights investigation into whether RealPage and property managers/landlords informed their tenants about how they are using their personal data.
Write to your local City Council members, State legislators, and AG Bob Ferguson to seek an investigation into these practices which adversely affect our housing markets!