The FBI has raided the headquarters of a major property company as an investigation into alleged rental price fixing among corporate landlords deepens.

It's recently emerged that Cortland Management, a firm in Atlanta that specializes in offering apartment homes, was searched by federal agents late last month.

All of this relates to growing legal pressure against RealPage, which provides property management software.

The company has been named in a slew of lawsuits that allege the owners of several large residential housing complexes had used RealPage's software to keep the rents paid by tenants above market rates.

Some of those cases have been settled while others are ongoing, with RealPage and some of the property companies named denying the claims against them. This is significant because of how extensively RealPage's software is used.

On its website, the business claims that it boasts a network of management companies that control over 16 million users—illustrating the influence it has in the rental market.

The software works by providing landlords with recommendations on how much they should charge for their properties based on real-time data from others in the area.

A statement released by Cortland Management, which reportedly owns 58,000 units across 13 U.S. states, said, "We are cooperating fully with that investigation, and we understand that neither Cortland nor any of our employees are 'targets' of that investigation."

Algorithmic price fixing and greed

News of the raid was first broken by MLex—and Tony Thomas, a local spokesperson for the FBI, told the publication, "Agents were at that address conducting court authorized activity. That is all we can say at this point."

Lee Hepner, legal counsel at the American Economic Liberties Project, claimed on X that the use of algorithmic price-fixing tools in the rental market amounts to "the most consequential criminal conspiracy of our time."

"From oil, to food, to rent, we're beginning to understand that inflation is a direct result of corporate greed and cartelization," he wrote.

Hepner went on to allege that rents in Atlanta, where Cortland Management operates, have risen by 56% over the past six years.

U.S. senators, including Elizabeth Warren, have previously raised concerns about RealPage's software.

In November 2022, they wrote to RealPage CEO Dana Jones—and claimed YieldStar, its algorithmic pricing mechanism, recommends that landlords keep units empty if tenants cannot pay the asking price, disproportionately hurting those on lower incomes.

In a detailed response, RealPage denied this and argued that YieldStar was not designed to maximize rents, but to manage revenues for properties. "It is the severe shortage in supply that has triggered rising housing costs—not the use of revenue management software," it wrote.

The company is yet to publicly respond to the latest developments surrounding the raid at Cortland Management's headquarters.