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    Broker’s fees: the subject of a heated hearing and rallies in NYC

    By James Ford,


    LOWER MANHATTAN (PIX11) — New York City has just over 1 million apartments, about half of which, according to the Real Estate Board, require a broker’s fee in order to rent them. Typically, that fee is paid by the renter. Proposed legislation that was the subject of a hearing by a New York City Council committee on Wednesday would instead require whoever hires the broker to pay the fee. Most often, that’s the landlord.

    On Wednesday, both opponents and supporters of the measure made their voices heard, loudly and clearly.

    It began with a rally featuring hundreds of real estate agents outside of City Hall in advance of the hearing .

    “What do we say to less jobs?” shouted James Whelan, the president of the Real Estate Board of New York, or REBNY. “No!” the crowd replied.

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    They argue that any change to the broker’s fee situation will result in less employment, less economic activity, and higher rents, since landlords will factor in fees if they’re forced to pay them.

    Supporters of the bill held their own rally and then waited in line to get into the committee hearing.

    It was filled to capacity, so the line to get in was about two blocks long and moved very slowly.

    They wanted to testify about the FARE Act, which stands for Fairness in Apartment Rentals.


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    To a person, the hundreds of renters who’d shown up at City Hall said that the fees are too high and unfair.

    “It’s the first month’s rent,” said Harsha Hanumaiah, describing the various payments that he and his mother had to pay for their apartment on Staten Island, “and the last month’s rent, and the broker’s fee, which is the equivalent of the first month’s rent.”

    The hearing began at 10 a.m., and people were on line to testify, starting at around 9 a.m. The line didn’t end until around noon.

    Selenia Nelson had been waiting two hours when she spoke with PIX11 News about her concerns. She works for an organization that houses domestic violence survivors.

    She said that typically, her office has to pay a $5,000 broker’s fee for each apartment it finds to house people escaping domestic violence.

    “We could help more people pay their rent,” she said, “if we just stop paying this ridiculous amount of broker fees.”

    The hearing was in front of the Consumer and Worker Protection Committee.

    The Adams administration had been expected to send the commissioner of the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection, Vilda Vera Mayuga. Instead, a deputy commissioner of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development was the sole representative of the city at the hearing.

    A number of councilmembers called it a “waste of time” for the New York City Council and said that they were offended at the administration’s response.

    More than 400 members of the general public and professional and labor groups had signed up to testify. Their testimony lasted from 10 a.m. until nearly 5 p.m.

    The bill, sponsored by Councilmember Chi Ossé of Brooklyn, has so many councilmembers committed to its passage, that it’s just shy of being veto-proof.

    It’s expected to go before the full City Council for a vote this summer.

    Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

    For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to PIX11.

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