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Jurisdiction: Georgia (state), United States

A particular apartment that is a renting community are forcing residents to madatorily pay for certain services by particular providers (i.e. if residents want to opt out, the only option is to move). These providers and the apartments' group are distinct entities, but they have common shareholders - sort of an anti-competitive practice.

A parallel I can draw is that if I buy an apple iphone, I must also pay for google search that comes with it.

Is it legal to do that? What are the relevant laws?

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    Is the requirement to use the particular service articulated in the lease? If not, what authority does the "apartments group" claim allows it to impose the requirement? What is the "apartments group"? Is it in fact the landlord?
    – phoog
    Oct 3, 2023 at 21:40
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    What kind of services?
    – Cadence
    Oct 3, 2023 at 22:21
  • @Cadence Package valet services. I never get any package delivered to this address, yet I have to opt in this service and pay $30/mo
    – whoisit
    Oct 4, 2023 at 5:23

2 Answers 2

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Is it legal to do that?

Yes

What are the relevant laws?

You correctly identify the most plausible argument that this kind of contract might be invalid: anti-trust and competition law.

Generally speaking, tie in arrangements can violate anti-trust law on the ground that they are anti-competitive practices, but only if demand for the tied in product or service is significantly influenced by the tie-in arrangement because the firm that ties the product or service into its product or service has an extremely high level of market dominance (e.g. Google or Microsoft or a public utility). The Federal Trade Commission, which is the primary federal agency enforcing anti-trust laws, explains this as follows:

If the seller offering the tied products has sufficient market power in the "tying" product, these arrangements can violate the antitrust laws.

Generally speaking, the market for rental housing in the United States is so highly fragmented, with even the largest firms in the business of being landlords having only a tiny market share, that a tie-in requirement by a landlord does not violate anti-trust laws.

The only place in the United States where an argument that a tie-in arrangement by a landlord violated anti-trust laws would be likely to succeed is Whittier, Alaska where everyone in the city has the same landlord and lives in the same building.

The answer from user6726 correctly observes that a state or local landlord-tenant regulation law could prohibit landlords from placing tie-in provisions in a lease. But statutes or ordinances that actually contain this requirement are very uncommon, and even when they do exist are usually specific to a single kind of product or service. Similarly, a law regulating the kind of product or service that it tied in (e.g. cable or satellite television) could regulate this practice, but again, this is very rarely actually done in practice.

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    The question leaves open the possibility that there is no relevant language in the lease.
    – phoog
    Oct 3, 2023 at 21:41
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    @phoog Fair point. I have assumed that "forcing residents to madatorily pay for certain services by particular providers" meant that the lease had a relevant requirement.
    – ohwilleke
    Oct 3, 2023 at 22:17
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The main relevant law is ordinary common law contract law: you have to do what you agreed to. A legislature can place limits on such agreements. The place to look would be the relevant parts of the Landlord-Tenant act, which states things that can't be required / forbidden by the lease contract. For example an application fee is allowed; the landlord is not allow to disclaim responsibility for maintaining the premise, or claim that they can unilaterally evict you. You can be required to buy renter's insurance. Many aspects of utilities will be specified in the lease (do you pay or does the landlord; are there individual meters or a single meter, if the latter and you pay, how is the utility charge computed?).

You do not say what you mean by "renting community", so I will assume that this refers to the landlord. "Services by particular providers" might mean that you have to use a particular gas company, in case competition exists – that kind of limit can legally be stipulated in the lease. If you mean something bizarre like "you must buy your groceries from Piggly Wiggly", the enforceability of such a condition is not obvious and could depend on the clarity of the lease language (a reasonable person would not think that you have to shop at a specific store as a condition for living in a place, therefore a reasonable person would not interpret vague language to mean that, but they would interpret clear language to mean exactly that).

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    What if there's nothing in the lease?
    – phoog
    Oct 3, 2023 at 21:42

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