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Large apartment companies linked to rental fixing scheme continued to profit this year: Analysis

(The Hill) – The six largest publicly traded apartment companies in the U.S. — all of which are linked to a rental price fixing scandal — experienced profit increases during the first three months of the year, according to an analysis from left-leaning watchdog group Accountable US exclusively shared with The Hill.  

In the analysis, the companies earned a combined $300 million in profit during the first quarter of the year, in part due to rent increases. 

Mid-America Apartments, the largest publicly traded apartment owner in the U.S., earned $147.6 million between January and March, a 5.4 percent increase from the same time last year.  

Similarly, AvalonBay Communities, the country’s second-largest apartment company, reported $173.4 million in profits in March, a roughly 18 percent increase from what the company earned the same time last year.  

The company’s “rental and other income” revenue increased to about $711 million during the first quarter of the year, a 5.6 percent increase from the same time last year, according to a press release from AvalonBay Communities.  

“We feel well positioned as we enter the peak leasing season, given low turnover, solid occupancy and positive rental rate momentum,” AvalonBay Communities CEO Benjamin Schall said in a call focused on the company’s earnings earlier this year.  

“Big corporate landlords have kept right on raising rent on everyday families regardless of how high their profits have grown. Adding insult to injury, many landlords rewarded a small group of wealthy investors with new handouts at the expense of struggling tenants,” Liz Zelnick, director of the economic security and corporate power program at Accountable US, said in a statement. 

Mid-America Apartments, Avalon Bay Communities along with the four other companies mentioned in the report were some of the 14 landlords sued by Washington D.C.’s attorney general’s office last year for possibly colluding to illegally raise rents for thousands of tenants by “collectively delegating price-setting authority to RealPage.” 

The lawsuit claims software company RealPage worked with real estate companies to artificially inflated the price of thousands of rental units which resulted in district residents paying “millions of dollars above fair market price.”  

The six apartment companies and RealPage have yet to reply to requests for comment from The Hill.  

Americans are struggling to afford housing as rent prices increase faster than salaries.  

A recent analysis by Zillow and StreetEasy found that rents increased by 30.4 percent nationwide between 2019 and 2023 while wages rose about 20 percent over that same period.  

New Labor Department data, released Wednesday, shows that housing costs remain high.  

Consumer prices did not change throughout May, and overall inflation appears to be slowing down, according to the new data.  

But housing costs increased for the fourth month in a row in May — up by 5.4 percent compared to the same time last year, the data shows.

The Labor data comes as the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy panel is set to announce its June interest rate decision. 

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