orange and red concrete houses
A city council hearing to debate the proposal is set for Wednesday. Credit: Matthis Volquardsen

On Wednesday, the New York City Council will debate a proposal to change how New Yorkers pay broker’s fees. Typically, renters pay first and last months’ rent, a deposit and a broker’s fee, which can range from one month’s rent to 15% of the annual rent. However, some fees have gone beyond that.  For example, one Flushing rent-stabilized apartment that cost $1,100 per month but had a  $15,000 broker fee earlier. And one broker’s fee in 2022 for another rent-regulated unit was nearly $20,000

Supporters of the bill say broker’s fees turn affordable apartments into unaffordable ones because there is no legal limit on what brokers can charge.

Here’s a quick breakdown of what you need to know about this bill. 

The bill:

  • Known as the Fairness in Apartment Rental Expenses (or FARE) Act.
  • Requires whoever hires the broker to pay a fee.
    • This means if the landlord hires the broker, the landlord pays the fee, not the tenants.
  • The bill does not ban or cap brokers’ fees — it only changes who pays it.
  • Introduced by Brooklyn Councilmember Chi Osse.

What supporters say: 

  • Supporters say broker’s fees turn affordable apartments into unaffordable ones because there is no legal limit on what brokers can charge.
    • Earlier this year, one Flushing rent-stabilized apartment that cost $1,100 to rent had a  $15,000 broker fee.
  •  In 2022, according to published reports, one rent-stabilized apartment on the Upper West Side was renting for $1,725 a month but had a broker’s fee of nearly $20,000

Who is against it: 

  • The Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), an organization supporting real estate agents and brokerage firms, opposes the bill and opposed a similar bill in the past.
  • Real estate agents say if this bill passes it would make it harder for them to make a living. 

What happens next: 

  • There is a public hearing on Wednesday, June 12 at 10 a.m. 

Need help paying broker’s fees? 

  • According to its website, the Human Resources Administration (HRA) issues a cash assistance allowance for a broker’s fee to those who are eligible. More information can be found here.
  • There is currently limited help for those who can’t afford to pay a broker’s fee, but you can try and negotiate the fee to a lower amount or look for “no-fee” apartments

Additional stories: 

For more housing help, check out this feature that answers common housing questions. 

This analysis digs into the mayor’s City of Yes housing plan.

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