A bill before the New York City Council that would reassign the responsibility for paying real estate broker fees has resulted in complex maneuvering after a real estate trade group reportedly attempted to block it from being heard.
The New York Daily News reported the bill, which was introduced in June by Brooklyn Councilman Chi Ossé, would require that whoever hires a broker pays for their fee. This changes the current law that allows landlords to hire brokers and requires renters to pay for them. There are no caps on what brokers can charge and their fees and commissions can frequently cost thousands of dollars in a city with some of the most expensive rental housing in the nation.
Earlier today, Ossé’s legislation – known as the FARE Act – received co-sponsorship from 25 of his Democratic colleagues in the Council, thus giving it the majority needed to pass in a Council floor vote. This comes after an attempt to have the bill heard before a committee was thwarted.
The Daily News also reported that the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), which represents landlord and broker firms in the city, is opposed to the bill and secured a secret deal earlier in this summer with Bronx Councilwoman Marjorie Velázquez to prevent the bill from being heard in the Consumer and Worker Protection Committee, which she chairs. The Daily News also cited data from the City Clerk’s Office showing REBNY raised $11,500 for Velázquez’s reelection campaign between July and August.
With Velázquez refusing to allow the bill to be heard by her committee, Ossé is attempting to get his bill heard in the Housing and Buildings Committee. But this would require the support of Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, who has not commented publicly on the issue. And if it should pass the Council, it would need to be signed by Mayor Eric Adams, who is also a landlord – the mayor has not commented publicly on the bill.