The Daily Dirt: Regulators say landlords must pay rental broker fees

An analysis of New York's top real estate news

Feb.February 06, 2020 03:06 PM
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Secretary of State Rosana Rosado (Credit: Getty Images)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Secretary of State Rosana Rosado (Credit: Getty Images)

Tenants usually foot the bill for rental broker fees. That’s about to change.

The Department of State issued guidance to clear up part of the new rent law, which barred landlords from accepting any “payment, fee or charge before or at the beginning of the tenancy.” According to the DOS, that means landlords must cover the fees for rental brokers they hire, Erin Hudson reports.

“The DOS issued a body blow to thousands of hard working New Yorkers,” said Reggie Thomas, REBNY’s senior vice president of government affairs. He said the change will result in higher rents. “That [additional cost of broker fees] gets amortized over the course of the entire year.”

The guidance came as a surprise to many, but the question of who should pay broker fees — and how much they should pay — has been an ongoing issue in the city. Last year, Council member Keith Powers drew the ire of residential brokers when he proposed capping the amount a tenant can pay toward the broker fee of a landlords’ real estate agent. The latest version of his bill had limited the fee to one month’s rent.

Other controversial changes could be on the horizon. During a joint budget hearing on housing Wednesday, the state’s housing regulator indicated that it could go after one of the last remaining tactics landlords use to increase rents in stabilized apartments: combining vacant units. Stay tuned on that one.

Another SoftBank executive is jumping ship. A third is in talks to leave.

Last week, Business Insider reported that Michelle Horn, a McKinsey veteran who joined SoftBank last year as chief people officer, left the company. Now it looks like Michael Ronen, who joined the firm’s $100 billion Vision Fund in 2017 as a managing partner, is “negotiating the terms” of his expected departure, according to the Financial Times.

Ron Fisher, who led SoftBank’s investments in WeWork and earned a board seat at the company, is also in talks to leave.

The exits come at a pretty tumultuous time for the conglomerate, David Jeans reports. It’s still recovering from WeWork’s botched IPO, and the company’s other investments have faced heightened scrutiny. Meanwhile, SoftBank has been unable to secure expected investments for a second Vision Fund, only managing to get non-binding commitments totalling $108 billion from investors including Apple, Microsoft and the National Bank of Kazakhstan.

Still, the bank owns a stake in other companies, including a 25 percent share in Alibaba, which is valued at nearly $600 billion.

What we’re thinking about: What do you think of mayoral hopeful, Shaun Donovan?? Send a note to [email protected].


Residential: The priciest residential closing recorded Wednesday was for a condo unit at 220 Central South at $28 million.

Commercial: The most expensive commercial closing of the day was for a rental building at 494 Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint, at $6.3 million.


The largest new building filing of the day was for a 15,800-square-foot residential building at 17 Eckford Street in Greenpoint. Yisroel Greenfeld filed the permit application.


The most expensive residential listing to hit the market was for a condo unit 15 Hudson Yards at $7.6 million. Corcoran Group has the listing.
— Research by Mary Diduch

A thing we’ve learned…

A successor to the American Book Bindery, a long-gone company whose name can still be seen on the side of a building at 30th Street and 10th Avenue, later operated out of a warehouse in Saddle Brook, N.J. According to the New York Times, that space opened in 1966 and was the company’s second location.

Elsewhere in New York

— The scourge of the missing Z is finally coming to an end. According to the New York Post, the MTA has replaced the first of 19 (!) misspelled Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge signs. The signs have been short one Z since 1964.

— At least 50 LinkNYC kiosks are sitting inactive, looking even more like the monolith from “2001: A Space Odyssey” than I thought possible. The City reports that it’s not clear when these devices will be activated. One was installed way back in November 2017.

— These days, it’s rare for a bookstore to close only to be replaced by another purveyor of books. But that’s exactly what’s happening at Book Culture’s former space on the Upper West Side. The Strand announced Wednesday that it is opening a new store at 450 Columbus Avenue, Gothamist reports.

Related Articles

The Lord & Taylor building at at 424-434 Fifth Avenue and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos (Credit: Google Maps, Getty Images)

The Daily Dirt: Amazon mulls buying WeWork’s Lord & Taylor building

Compass CEO Robert Reffkin and Avi Dorfman (Illustration by The Real Deal)

The Daily Dirt: Compass heads to trial

A rendering of The Dime at 209 Havemeyer Street in Brooklyn (Credit: Fogarty Finger)

The Daily Dirt: City to pay for homeless residents in luxury rentals

A photo illustration of Michael Gianaris and Jeff Bezos (Credit: Getty Images, Wikipedia, iStock)

The Daily Dirt: It’s Amazon abandonment day

Larkin Plaza (Credit: Rendering courtesy of SLCE Architects)

The Daily Dirt: How an RXR Realty project factors in an alleged mob scheme

From left: Obligo COO Omri Dor, Jetty CEO Michael Rudoy, Rhino CEO Paraag Sarva and TheGuarantors CEO Julien Bonneville (Credit: The French Studio via YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn)

The Daily Dirt: The biggest winners of security deposit reform

UK’s former Chancellor of the Exchequer Phillip Hammond (Credit: iStock, Getty Images)

The Daily Dirt: Broker fee lessons from … England?

REBNY President James Whelan (Credit: iStock; Whelan photo by Anuja Shakya)

The Daily Dirt: Rental broker fees are back! For now.