Accurate, Focused Research on Law, Technology and Knowledge Discovery Since 2002

Artificial Intelligence Is Making The Housing Crisis Worse

The Lever: “…Landlords are increasingly turning to private equity-backed artificial intelligence (AI) screening programs to help them select tenants, and resulting cases like Robinson’s are just the tip of the iceberg. The prevalence of incorrect, outdated, or misleading information in such reports is increasing costs and barriers to housing, according to a recent report from federal consumer regulators. Even when screening programs turn up real data, housing and privacy advocates warn that opaque algorithms are enshrining high-tech discrimination in an already unequal housing market — the latest example of how AI can end up amplifying existing biases. Alongside the TransUnion lawsuit, at least four other tenant screening companies, many of which purport to predict “rental risk” through the use of AI, are currently facing more than 90 federal civil rights and consumer lawsuits, according to a Lever review of court records. The outcomes of those cases, along with potential new rules from federal agencies, could help set the tone for coming regulatory battles over AI, as concerns mount over its proliferating uses. Last month, 15 state attorneys general submitted a letter urging regulators to ensure that “applicants for housing have access to all the data that is being used to make determinations of their tenant ‘worthiness’” — and that screening companies are complying with civil rights law. Federal regulators are currently considering additional regulations on tenant screening programs. But such measures are staunchly opposed by lobbyists for the real estate, property management, and consumer data industries — the latter of which have also fought state legislation to rein in the use of Big Data in housing, employment, and other high-stakes decisions. The Consumer Data Industry Association, a lobbying group for screening and credit reporting companies, has reported spending more than $400,000 so far this year lobbying in states considering legislation to increase transparency in the development and use of AI. In a June 2021 letter to federal consumer regulators, the industry group argued against the need for additional oversight of AI in financial technologies. By incentivizing accurate and predictive tools that create profit-making opportunities, the letter said, “the marketplace itself inherently regulates AI systems.”..

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.