Ms. Demeanor's Vertical Etiquette

Dear Ms. Demeanor: Pay broker's fee to switch the SAME building?

By Jamie Lauren Sutton  | June 8, 2011 - 2:15PM

Dear Ms. Demeanor,

I'm not really sure if this is an etiquette question exactly, but when my husband and I were looking at apartments in our building last year, the broker was like, "Hey if you don't like the unit you're in, after a year or whenever they send you the lease renewal you can move to another unit if there is another available." Period, end of story.  

Since we moved in, we've been thinking this was an option for us and kind of excited about this--even more so recently as  the street noise factor is really interfering with our "quiet  enjoyment", not to mention our sleep!

So when we got the lease renewal, I called up the management company and asked to switch. They said it's only an option if we wanted to add OR subtract a bedroom. When we asked why, they said, "That's just how it's done."

We are currently in a two-bedroom. There are several layouts for the two-bedrooms. However, the only three bedrooms are the penthouses that go for much more money a month. We would be prepared to spend incrementally more per month, but  not thousands more.

To get a two-bedroom, the only option they gave me was to go through a broker again!!! This  building only does rentals through brokers. So I would have to pay another broker's fee!!! No way.

What do you think? 

Not Paying

Dear NP,

So you are asking for a horizontal move in the vertical village?  This situation is unsual as most people can simply move to another apartment in the same rental building when the lease is up for renewal no matter what the size. However, some landlords do use brokers to lease AND manage the building, and they can charge you fees to switch apartments.

It does seen absurd that they will let you move to a smaller, cheaper apartment without this fee.  

Do you have access to the actual owner of the building?  Your best bet is to approach him or her and have you deal with him or her directly.  You can try explaining also that the noise is a huge factor, a circumstance that may or may not fall on deaf ears.

Bottom line: Next time you sign a lease, get your right to switch without a broker's fee in writing.

Best of luck and keep us posted!

Ms. Demeanor

Ms. Demeanor is channeled by a longtime Manhattan vertical dweller and real-estate voyeur who writes under the pen name Jamie Lauren Sutton. She is here to commiserate, calm and correct. Please email your quandaries to [email protected] and put "Dear Ms. Demeanor" in the subject line.

See all of Ms. Demeanor's advice here.


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