Broker pockets $20K fee for rent-stabilized UWS pad

Solil-owned unit rents for $1,725 per month

City Wide Apartments agent Ari Wilford and 206 West 104th Street in Manhattan NYC (Google Maps, City Wide Apts)
City Wide Apartments agent Ari Wilford and 206 West 104th Street in Manhattan NYC (Google Maps, City Wide Apts)

A broker fee for an Upper West Side rental takes the cake for the hurdles facing hopeful tenants.

A one-bedroom apartment at 206 West 104th Street was listed for $3,750 a month, but the broker said it was rent stabilized and would only cost $1,725 a month, the New York Post reported.

The catch? Ari Wilford of City Wide Apartments required a $20,000 broker fee to secure the unit in the prewar, six-story building near Central Park and Frederick Douglass Playground.

The anonymous renter told the outlet they convinced Wilford to shave $500 from the broker’s fee. The renter then pulled the trigger, persuaded by Wilford’s argument that the money would all even out by the end.

The fee is astronomical, even in New York City’s pricey rental market. While there’s no law that dictates what a broker is allowed to charge, the most common outlay is either 15 percent of a year’s rent or one month’s rent.

​​The fee “probably isn’t kosher,” power broker Dolly Lenz told the outlet, and the tenant “could probably get the money back.”

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At least one potential renter was dissuaded from pursuing the apartment, which is owned by Solil Management, due to the exorbitant fee.

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Wilford declined to comment to the Post, while Solil didn’t respond to the outlet’s request for comment.

Two years ago, renters seemed to be in the lease from broker’s fees. The Department of State ruled that under legislation from the previous year, landlords should be responsible for a broker’s costs. It interpreted the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act to allow for a ban on broker fees for tenants, but the law makes no specific reference to exempting tenants from these fees.

The victory proved to be short-lived. Real estate industry groups challenged the ruling and brokers and their fees were reinstated in May 2021 after a judge said the department’s guidance “was issued in error of law and represents an unlawful intrusion upon the power of the legislature and constitutes an abuse of discretion.”

— Holden Walter-Warner