How To Find NYC Apartments for Rent with No Broker Fee

August 16, 2022 | the RENT BETTA team

Unsplash, lunapic

Congratulations, you made it to NYC!

Now it's time to find an apartment...but wait, some broker wants to charge you a 1-2 month broker fee?

To avoid a broker fee, you’re going to have to avoid a broker.  Check out RENTBETTA.com to see no fee apartments available from management companies across NYC that let you rent directly from their leasing office.  Craigslist has a “no fee” option, but skip anything that looks like it’s posted by a broker or feels like a scam.  Pound the pavement in the neighborhoods you like, asking doormen for availabilities and looking for placards from management companies near the door (hint: RENT BETTA has already done this for you).  Joining a flatshare is another great way to avoid broker fees.

RENT BETTA

As Streeteasy and Craigslist are filled with fake listings and broker scams, wouldn’t it be nice if there was one website with all the real apartments you can rent with no broker fee, directly from a management company in NYC?

There is a new website called RENTBETTA.com, and it was put together by renters tired of having to go through fake listings from brokers on Streeteasy and paying thousands of dollars in broker fees.

They found all the management companies in NYC that let you rent an apartment directly, with no broker fee. RENT BETTA combined all these truly no fee listings on one website, and connects you directly with the management company to book a tour or apply, not a broker.

Now you don't have to scroll through fake listings or go through dozens of different management company websites to find a no fee apartment. You can see all the direct, no fee apartments available on one website.

And since they don’t allow brokers to post, you won’t waste time on fake broker listings.  

Craigslist

Craigslist is a free-for-all, but good deals can be found!

Check the “no broker fee” box near the bottom of the search bar on the left, and start scrolling through listings.

Skip past anything that looks like it's posted by a broker, who typically include watermarks in the photos or broker contact details in the description, or anything feels fishy when you reach out to see the place.

If they respond back to you saying "it's no longer available, let me show you these other places" or demand that you immediately make a deposit, it's likely a scam.

Fighting the fraudsters in the NYC rental market is a game of whack-a-mole and will completely waste your time. Don't try to argue back with them and go down some rabbit-hole, just delete the listing from your favorites and give up any false hope immediately if the listing appears suspect.

What you’re on the hunt for is a no fee apartment posted directly by the building owner, not a broker.

While the availabilities of large and medium sized management companies will all be on RENT BETTA, smaller walk-up landlords who don’t have their own leasing offices sometimes post on Craigslist.

This is what you’re after.

So if it says "no fee" and looks like it’s posted by the real building owner - setup a time to see the place.  But if it looks like it’s posted by a broker or try to pressure you into some scam, ignore it and move on.

Pound the Pavement

Another way to avoid a broker fee is to walk around the neighborhood you want to move to and start knocking on doors.

If you’re looking for a luxury building, greet the doormen and ask if their are any availabilities in the building or a website you can check out.

If you’re interested in walk-ups, look for a sign hanging from the fire escape or a placard near the door which gives the management company name.  About 10-20% of buildings display the name of the management company, and you’ll see names like Eberhart Brothers, LC Lemle, and Stuytown.

Hint: RENT BETTA has done this step for you, and put the listings of different management companies offering no fee apartments on RENTBETTA.com.

A lot of people used to try this approach to finding a no fee apartment, it still works, but it's a little easier now with RENTBETTA.com.

Join a Flatshare

Joining a flatshare allows you to make immediate friends, save money on rent, and avoid broker fees!

Spareroom, Facebook Marketplace and Housing Groups like Gypsy Housing are good places to find sublets and flatshares.

There’s even a Meetup group for NYC Speed Roommating in the East Village, where you can meet other people offering sublets or find new roommates to go apartment hunting with at one of their happy hours.

There are also a few apps that work okay to find sublets, like Diggz and RoomiApp.

How NOT to find a no fee apartment

There are 10-12 apartment search websites in NYC, so you may feel like you have a lot of options, but most suffer from the same problem: fake, outdated listings automatically populated by broker feeds.

Brokers pay to post listings, so these sites cater to them, not you.

And on most of these apartment search sites, you have to contact a broker to see the listing, not the actual building owner.

Brokers don’t work for free, so if they posted an apartment listing, it likely is either fake or has a fee attached.

So what’s really going on here, with all these different websites showing no fee apartments from brokers?

Brokers fill these sites with fake listings: nice looking apartments in popular neighborhoods, with cheap prices and often marked as "no fee".  But these apartments don't really exist - they cannot show them to you. They're just there as bait.

Brokers pay to post these listings to generate leads - your name and number, to show you other apartments they have available (the “bait-and-switch”), or work some other type of scam.

Here are other apartment search websites in NYC, but be careful of anything “no fee” that’s posted by a broker. You're going to run into a lot of fake listings and scams:

CityRealty

Frele

Gobii

Gonofee.com

Hotpads

Leasebreak

Nobroker.nyc

PropertyClub.nyc

RentHop

Transparentcity.co

UrbanPads

Conclusion

Finding a no broker fee apartment for rent in New York City can feel like navigating a maze of websites, scams, and tricky, aggressive brokers.  What you are after is an apartment for rent directly from the building owner, not through a broker. The easiest way to find these apartments is on RENTBETTA.com, which has all the listings of large and medium sized management companies in NYC.  Smaller landlords sometimes post on Craigslist, just filter anything that looks posted by a broker or feels like a scam.  Joining a flatshare is another great way to avoid a broker fee, and can make living in NYC much cheaper.