News Tip

The Dynamic Duo of Darkness: Greystar and RealPage

This post expresses the views and opinions of the author(s) and not necessarily that of The Saline Post management or staff.

Once upon a time, in the City of Denver. In a world where the quest for affordable housing feels like a never-ending game of Monopoly, Greystar and RealPage have joined forces to create what some might call the "dynamic duo of darkness" in the property management realm. Sure, they've seen growth and success, but their alliance is tainted by courtroom battles and allegations of making an already dire housing crisis even worse. Greystar, the property management heavyweight, and RealPage, the software whiz kid, stand accused of joining forces to jack up rental prices and take advantage of those who can least afford it. As Denver grapples with its own affordable housing conundrum and a rising tide of homelessness, the questionable actions of Greystar and RealPage seem to be adding fuel to the fire. Profiting from their partnership, these companies leave behind a legacy of legal woes and, more tragically, a growing number of people searching for a place to call home.

The Big Bad

When Greystar, the property management powerhouse, and RealPage, the software wizard, joined forces, it seemed like a match made in real estate heaven. They harnessed the magic of RealPage's software for everything from buying brooms to managing money and setting rents, all while crafting stunning website designs. Staci Groth from Greystar even sang the praises of RealPage's Spend Management software for turning the tedious procurement process into a breeze. Greystar gobbled up RealPage's market analytics like candy, and together they whipped up a batch of scrumptious website templates that played nice with all sorts of gadgets.

But alas, every fairytale has its dark side. The dreamy partnership between Greystar and RealPage has been stained by a trail of legal scandals. Both companies, along with a rogue's gallery of property management firms, found themselves in the hot seat, accused of colluding in student housing. The lawsuit claimed they used RealPage's YieldStar platform like a magic wand to conjure up inflated rents for empty apartments. RealPage has also been accused of giving landlords (including Greystar) the power to maintain sky-high rents with a few clicks, raising eyebrows about potential antitrust shenanigans.

Despite the perks of their partnership, Greystar and RealPage can't seem to shake the legal drama that keeps nipping at their heels.

Greystar has its own closet full of skeletons, too, with multiple lawsuits filed by former employees. In one shocking case, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) sued Greystar Holdings, Inc. for allegedly retaliating against an employee who cried foul on sexual harassment.

Another legal tussle involved Michael Leon taking on Greystar Management Services, LP in Los Angeles County Superior Courts over labor issues, although the nitty-gritty details remain under wraps. Meanwhile, deep in the heart of Texas, a proposed class-action lawsuit accused Greystar Management Services, LP of skimping on overtime wages in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

But wait, there's more! Greystar Management Services, LP also got slapped with a lawsuit for allegedly bungling workers' retirement savings with sky-high fees on their 401(k) plans. And lastly, Greystar Management Services, LP forked over $25,000 to settle a federal pregnancy discrimination lawsuit filed by the EEOC after accusations of giving a pregnant housekeeper the boot. Keep in mind, though, that each case has its own twists and turns, and individual circumstances can make all the difference.

Partners in Crime

Hailing from the Lone Star State, RealPage is a software-slinging, service-providing powerhouse in the property management realm. Their software is a magnet for juicy data, like the rents charged by property managers, who just so happen to be their clients. But lately, RealPage has found itself entangled in a web of legal kerfuffles involving collusion and antitrust violations.

A lawsuit against RealPage accuses them of cozying up with some of America's heftiest landlords (Greystar Real Estate Partners included) to form a rent-raising cartel. This legal brouhaha was kicked off after ProPublica's investigative deep dive into rent-setting software and its possible effects on the rental market. Now, a gaggle of plaintiff firms is jostling to take the reins in the courtroom showdown against RealPage.

This antitrust lawsuit isn't the only scrape RealPage has gotten into. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has a treasure trove of info on cases and proceedings featuring RealPage, with one such case culminating in a $3 million settlement.

It's worth noting that the legal rollercoaster RealPage is riding hasn't reached the finish line yet, and the outcome of the antitrust litigation against RealPage remains up in the air. As the case unfolds, more details about the alleged collusion between RealPage, Greystar, and other property management firms may come to light, illuminating the legal and ethical quandaries they're grappling with.

The Setting

In the past decade, Denver's population has boomed like a gold rush, shooting up 21% while, sadly, the number of people experiencing homelessness has spiked by 25% from January 2017 to January 2020. This surge in Mile High City dwellers has turned the affordable housing crisis into a full-blown tempest.

To combat homelessness and the dearth of affordable housing, Denver has saddled up and adopted the "housing-first" model. This approach focuses on finding permanent homes with supportive services for those often caught in the revolving door of the criminal justice system and emergency health care. A five-year study in Denver suggests that the housing-first model is smashing the "homelessness-to-jail" pipeline and giving folks a leg up on their health and well-being.

While some Denverites rally behind affordable housing requirements, others are chipping away at development barriers like density limits, parking requirements, permitting, and fees, hoping to usher in more housing and make it more affordable. Historically, Denver's zoning policies have nurtured low-income minority neighborhoods with new development while keeping upper-middle-class 'hoods pristine with single-family zoning. This zoning dance has led to an uneven spread of resources and opportunities across the city.

To tackle the affordable housing crisis and homelessness, Denver is digging deep into its policy toolbox, searching for shiny new instruments to promote affordable housing. The city recognizes the ever-growing need for roofs over heads and is committed to crafting innovative solutions to keep residents safe, housed, and stable. And in the end, isn't that what everyone deserves?

In the high-stakes game of property management, the alliance between Greystar and RealPage has turned more than a few heads, and not just for their ongoing legal hullabaloo. This dynamic duo highlights the need for beefed-up antitrust enforcement in an industry where fair competition and collusion-free practices are crucial to keeping rental prices grounded in reality.

The affordable housing crisis calls for a radical makeover, trading profit-hungry models for sustainable and equitable housing solutions. By capping rental rates and putting the spotlight on housing that caters to all income levels, we can tackle the daunting mountain of unaffordable housing. Denver's pioneering spirit shines through in its adoption of groundbreaking policies, like the housing-first model, proving that change is not only possible but also promising.

In the end, the recipe for success involves a hearty mix of vigorous antitrust enforcement, fair housing policies, and an unwavering dedication to affordability. With this winning combination, we can ensure that everyone has a shot at safe, stable, and reasonably priced digs to call their own.

I'm interested
I disagree with this
This is unverified