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Broker demanding fee for every two-month lease renewal

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Broker demanding fee for every two-month lease renewal

Postby aludtke412 » Mon Nov 03, 2014 8:23 pm

My current studio apartment is under a maximum two-month lease, precisely because the building itself is up for sale so the leases are short in case it sells and the tenants have to move out in a few months.
I signed an initial two-month lease at the end of July and paid a broker fee with it for that two months. I also apparently signed a document that essentially says that upon each renewal of the two-month lease up until a year has passed that he is entitled to the same hefty broker fee each time in lieu of being able to charge 15% on a one-year lease.

I renewed my lease for October 1st by again being forced to go through this broker (who did nothing besides forward me the lease via email again after me badgering him for it twice) and, since I am paying monthly, paid half the broker fee. The next half was due on November 1st but the more I've looked into this I feel that the contract I was apparently made to sign was unethical and have doubts about its legality, so I didn't pay the broker fee, just mailed in my rent.

I want to be able to just renew every two months with the management company without paying this broker. The landlord's attorney just called me and left a voicemail to ask me to call her back so we can work something out. What are my rights here? Is it worth it to fight this? It's a $200/month fee so hiring a lawyer isn't worth it. And what are the risks? Thanks a ton.
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Re: Broker demanding fee for every two-month lease renewal

Postby TenantNet » Mon Nov 03, 2014 8:46 pm

This sounds like a scam, not only on part of the broker, but also with the two-month lease. There is no rule or law that requires leases to end before a building is sold. A new landlord would simply acquire all existing leases. So that argument is baloney.

The question is if the LL has the right to offer a short lease like this, or not. What sort of building is this? How many units are in the building (more than six)? How old is the building (built prior to 1974?) Is it a co-op or condo (not likely). These - plus other questions can help determine if the apartment should be rent stabilized.

I would immediately call DHCR and see what they say. Ask for a rent history. Are there any tenants who have been there many years? Find out what they say about the history of the building.

As for the broker rules, call the NY Attorney General's office.

ANd for the LL's lawyer, this makes even less sense. Paying rent to the LL is one thing, but is the LL's lawyer demanding the fee be paid to the broker? If so, this sound even more of a fraud. Brokers and LL's are supposed to have an arm's length relationship. If the broker is really working for the LL, then they are not supposed to get any of the money.

BTW, if it comes up, they can evict you only with a court order. If they make any threats, call the police.
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