Landlord Tech Watch

Landlord Tech—what the real estate industry describes as residential property technology, is leading to new forms of housing injustice. Property technology, or “proptech,” has grown dramatically since 2008, and applies to residential, commercial, and industrial buildings, effectively merging the real estate, technology, and finance industries. By employing digital surveillance, data collection, data accumulation, artificial intelligence, dashboards, and platform real estate in tenant housing and neighborhoods, Landlord Tech increases the power of landlords while disempowering tenants and those seeking shelter.

Project website

Which Information Matters? Measuring Landlord Assessment of Tenant Screening Reports

This research studies how tenant screening services’ presentation of information influences landlord decisions. Tenant screening services utilize criminal records, eviction records, and credit score databases to produce reports that landlords use to inform their decisions about who to rent to. However, little is known about how landlords assess the information presented by tenant screening reports. Through a behavioral experiment with landlords using simulated tenant screening reports, this study shows that landlords use blanket screening policies, that they conflate the existence of tenant records with outcomes (e.g., eviction filings with executed evictions), and that they display, on average, tendencies toward automation bias that are influenced by the risk assessments and scores presented by tenant screening reports. I argue that maintaining blanket screening policies and automation bias, combined with the downstream effects of creating and using racially biased eviction and criminal records, means that people of color will inevitably experience disproportionate exclusion from rental housing due to perceived “risk” on the part of landlords.