Algorithmic rent increase

October 17, 2022


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It’s growing more common for landlords to use software to set the rental prices of their properties. This of course leads to software companies promising optimized pricing for maximum profit, which leads to higher rent for residents. Heather Vogell, Haru Coryne, and Ryan Little, for ProPublica, look closer at the practice, with a focus on pricing company RealPage:

To arrive at a recommended rent, the software deploys an algorithm — a set of mathematical rules — to analyze a trove of data RealPage gathers from clients, including private information on what nearby competitors charge.

For tenants, the system upends the practice of negotiating with apartment building staff. RealPage discourages bargaining with renters and has even recommended that landlords in some cases accept a lower occupancy rate in order to raise rents and make more money.

One of the algorithm’s developers told ProPublica that leasing agents had “too much empathy” compared to computer generated pricing.