A new condo building is going up next door to mine. How do we protect our property from damage?

An industrial-style penthouse on the High Line, for $10,750,000

A Williamsburg studio with a private terrace, gym, and low monthlies, for $635,000

How I won a two bedroom in the Bronx for $655 a month in NYCs affordable housing lottery

A two bedroom in Sunnyside with a washer/dryer and central air, for $3,000

10 apartment staging mistakes that can cost you a sale

Here are the NYC apartments for sale with the deepest price chops in August

London Terrace tenants win big, Trumps childhood home back on market, & more

A new condo building is going up next door to mine. How do we protect our property from damage?

Brick Undergrounds guide to NYC transit apps like Pigeon, Underway, Moovit & more

10 apartment staging mistakes that can cost you a sale

Is whitestone the new trend in Brownstone Brooklyn?

IKEAs new smart home products will help you connect your apartmentfor less

A riverfront house with a dock and 10 acres in Hanover, NH, for $799,000

5 houses in New Orleans, one of the best cities for job-hunting millennialsand drinking outdoors

This custom-built log home on five acres in Southington, Connecticut, could be yours for $649,900

Rent Coach: The broker didnt say there was a fee until AFTER the lease was signed. Do we have to pay?

Q. My parents-in-law live in Queens and decided to see what living in Manhattan is like for one year. They picked a broker and selected an apartment on the Upper East Side.

The broker never mentioned to them what fee she charges, and they assumed she was being compensated by the building. Right after signing the lease, the broker asks for a 15% fee. My parents-in-law are upset for obvious reasons. They did not sign any contract with the broker and fees were never disclosed. Do they have any obligation to pay her?

A. Based on the facts you shared, no. In order for a broker to collect a fee, some form of agreement needs to be reached by both the prospective tenant and the agent. At a minimum, it must provide for the amount of the fee to be collected in the event that the agent shows the client an apartment that they end up leasing. Such an arrangement is typically provided for in a fee agreement, which I havepreviously discussed.

Absent any conversation or written contract regarding brokers fees, including who would be paying them (i.e. the tenant or the landlord) and the amount that would be paid, the agent will be unable to collect a fee after the lease signing.

That said, it sounds as though one of two things are going on here. Either the agent was very inexperienced or just plain sloppy; or your in-laws are leaving out some important facts.

The agent should have asked your in-laws to sign a fee agreement before ever viewing the apartment. Further, its hard to imagine how your parents-in-law were allowed to actually sign the lease before the brokers fee was discussed. Brokers fees are to be paid at the lease signing, by certified check, along with any up front rent and security deposit. However, sometimes large management companies contact the tenant directly to facilitate a lease signing even when they are aware there is a broker (a practice brokerage firms should not tolerate and experienced brokers are able to navigate). In this event, the aforementioned fee agreement would be the only line of defense for the agent to ensure that they collect their fee.

Though the agent clearly did not protect herself, your in-laws are not without blame. How does one engage the services of another, never discuss how that person is to be paid, and then after the service is provided claim that they expected someone else was to pay the fee?

If they believed that the landlord would be paying (a scenario that happens in Manhattan infrequently), they should have confirmed that up front. Though their unwillingness to pay now is ethically questionable (to say the least), they would not be legally obligated to pay a fee absent an explicit agreement to do so.

Mike Akerlyis a New York City real estate attorney, landlord, and real estate broker. He is also the publisher of the Greenwich Village blogVillageConfidential.

Note: The information provided here is for informational purposes only. It should not be construed as legal advice and cannot substitute for the advice of a licensed professional applying their specialized knowledge to the particular circumstances of your case.

Rent Coach: Is my broker entitled to a fee even though he didnt show me the apartment Im taking?

Rent Coach: Why wont my broker lower her fee on a condo rental?

Rent Coach: Broker says there is a fee. Sign says there isnt. What gives?

Rent Coach: When does a brokers fee agreement expire?

Moving to NYC? Heres a crash course in finding an apartment here

Why wont my rental agent commit to a fixed fee?

Brick Underground articles occasionally include the expertise of, or information about, advertising partners when relevant to the story. We will never promote an advertisers product without making the relationship clear to our readers.

How to tackle asking a noisy neighboror landlordto keep it down

A basic guide to NYC plumbing: How to keep your apartments pipes flowing

Selling in a buyers market? Then you should already be in Triplemints Pre-Market Program

What its like to live on Roosevelt Island: A renter answers the most-asked questions

5 West Village studios for under $2,500 a month, if you crave a hip neighborhood

What you need to know about luxury buildings with playrooms

Hisses, clanks, and bangs: A guide to the noises your NYC radiator makes

*By signing up you agree to receive occasional emails on behalf of our sponsors

*By signing up you agree to receive occasional emails on behalf of our sponsors

Delivered to your inbox twice weekly – for free.