Surprise for New York Renters: No More Broker Fees

Some tenant activists rejoiced the new guidance, saying it would help reduce the barriers for housing for many tenants and potentially reduce New York’s growing homeless population.

“It’s about rehousing 92,000 homeless people,” said Cea Weaver, the campaign coordinator of Housing Justice for All, a statewide coalition of tenants that pushed for the new rent laws. “Hopefully, it’ll make it easier for people being pushed from substandard housing to substandard housing.”

Still, Ms. Weaver said that she was skeptical the real estate industry would abide by the new guidance, which is subject to change. The best way to protect tenants, she said, was if state lawmakers passed a good cause eviction bill that would make it even harder for landlords to raise rents and evict tenants.

For market-rate apartments, the cost of broker fees could still trickle down, but it might be impossible to pass on the costs to tenants of rent-regulated units. Increases on those rents are set by the government.

About 2.4 million people live in rent-regulated apartments in New York City.

Most significantly Mr. Martin said, the changes could lead thousands of real estate brokers to lose their jobs.

“I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that,” Mr. Martin said.

There were more than 25,000 licensed real estate brokers in New York City as of early 2019, according to New York’s Department of State.

Eric Benaim, the chief executive of Modern Spaces, a brokerage firm with about 100 employees, said that the changes hurt agents, who make a living based on collecting broker’s fees.

“They are just on this high,” Mr. Benaim said, “of just punishing real estate and those in the business.”

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