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Illegal/legal Brokers Fee Situation

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Illegal/legal Brokers Fee Situation

Postby classykate » Wed Oct 21, 2015 2:37 pm


I currently live in an apt in Williamsburg with a roommate - we are both on the lease, we've both had credit checks (I've lived there for 3 years).

My partner is moving in, and I noticed the unit below mine is opening up. So it seems fair and perfect solution that she could move downstairs with a friend. I called management, who I knew would direct me to talk to the broker who works with the building because the owner of the building and the real estate brokers who have an exclusive on the building are family.

They are STILL insisting on a brokers fee even though my roommate is on the lease. 12% year's rent, and offering to take a $1000 cut. But, the fact that she's on the lease and has been credit checked, and they definitely did not help us find the apt, and have not showed us the apt, I'm hoping there is documentation somewhere that says this is illegal.

Would love some help.

Thank you so much!!

k a t e
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Re: Illegal/legal Brokers Fee Situation

Postby TenantNet » Thu Oct 22, 2015 7:52 pm

First, it is not good practice to have a user name with what is presumably your real name anywhere on the internet, but especially on a forum like this. That is why our forum rules tell users not to do this. Nor should you sign your real name to any posts. You are open season for identify theft and/or landlord harassment. So please change your user name and remove your name from the post.

Now, you don't say if your current roommate wants to move or to engage in your idea. That's the first hurdle. Second, for your partner to move in - also would depend if the roommate is OK with that.

As for the rest, we asked a broker we know, who responded below:

An interesting question. I dealt with a situation like this about 20 years ago, on an unstabilized unit. From memory, here are the key points the landlord made at that time:

1. the broker does the credit check for us.
2. the broker does other screening for us (housing court ,etc.)
3. the broker prepares leases for us.
4. the broker gathers all the documents and certified checks and delivers the complete application/lease package to us, ready for signature.

These are all administrative functions, of course, and not worth the amount of the broker's commission. But who is to say?

For example; if the roommates were qualified based on the income of just one of the roommates (the other roommate) or they had a guarantor, and it was the other parent's who were guaranteeing the lease.

Also, we don't know if the roommates had a history of paying their rent religiously on-time or if they were regularly late. That would matter in wanting to re-qualify the applicant.

Just because the tenant knew of the upcoming vacancy doesn't mean the landlord has to accept the former roommate as a tenant. So I guess he/she should consider the broker's fee in this situation to be the cost of admittance. I don't think he/she has any recourse at all and there are no known rules and regulations that the owner or the broker appear to be breaking.

Now that is his view. I agree with your position, but I can't cite any rule or law that would prevent the LL from imposing a broker on you for this. Perhaps you might negotiate based on all the points raised above.

BTW, having your partner move into your current unit (and having him/her on the lease) might allow the LL to change the terms of your lease (not necessrily for the better). Be careful of that.

And BTW, if you were rent regulated, things might be different, at least for your current unit. For RS tenants, it's always a danger to add people to a lease (drop is OK, not add).
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Re: Illegal/legal Brokers Fee Situation

Postby BubbaJoe123 » Fri Oct 23, 2015 12:31 am

Assuming that this is in fact a non-regulated apartment, then the landlord is pretty much free to impose whatever upfront or rental fees he/she wants. If it were rent-regulated, then, if the landlord and broker were the same person or company, you could argue that charging a broker's fee was essentially an end-run around rent stabilization limits on rent.

At the core, a broker's fee isn't a cost-plus or per hour fee - a broker doesn't get paid more if he/she does more work.

Bottom line, assuming this apartment actually isn't rent-regulated, I don't see any reason the landlord can't tell your roommate to pay the broker's fee if he/she wants the new apartment.
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