Living in NYC: Fee vs. No Fee Apartments

Fee vs. No Fee Apartments in NYC

Moving to the most bustling city in the world is intimidating on many levels, but nowhere is it more so than in finding somewhere to live. In most cities, you’d open a newspaper, call a few numbers, and have an apartment straight away, but in New York City, that just won’t fly. New York apartment hunting contains rules and terminology that can baffle the average outsider. One of the most baffling of those concepts is the idea of fee and no-fee apartments.

Why Would I Have to Pay a Fee?

Throughout most of the United States, renters find apartments on their own, but in New York, it’s almost a requirement to use a broker to gain access to the widest range of apartments. Brokers will locate apartments, show them to you, and deal with the landlord for you. Many apartments are not available to renters hunting on their own without a broker.

Brokers don’t generally come free, though, so the fee that is spoken of when apartment-hunting is the broker’s fee. The broker’s fee typically varies between 8.5 and 17% of the annual rent on the apartment, so it adds up quickly. An apartment renting for $2000 per month could easily carry a fee of $3500 or more due to the broker at the time of signing. Pricier areas tend to have even higher broker fees.

So What Does No-Fee Really Mean?

No-fee generally means one of two things. If you’re working with a broker, obviously the broker cannot work for free. In some instances, no-fee apartment communities are willing to pay for the broker so that the tenant does not pay the fee himself. Instead, the landlord will pay the fee, which means that the tenant will be able to move into the apartment with much less cash upfront.

In other instances, no-fee means that the tenant is able to deal with the property management company directly, in which case neither party is responsible for paying a fee as no broker is involved.

Wait, Why Would the Landlord Pay the Fee?

Think of it like an advertisement to get a tenant quickly. Apartments in New York City are expensive, so letting that aforementioned $2000 apartment sit empty for half a year while a tenant is found is going to cost the landlord $12,000. That’s a big deal. Instead of taking that loss, some landlords are willing to pay the broker’s fee themselves in order to give a tenant the incentive to choose their apartment over a fee apartment.

What Are the Benefits of No-Fee Apartments?

As long as you rent with the right property management company, no-fee NYC apartments have a big upside. The primary one, of course, is that you don’t have to pay a fee. That can save you more than half of your upfront costs, which will leave you with a lot more money in pocket to buy furniture or other necessities. You could even use the money saved to splurge on a slightly nicer apartment.


Apartment-hunting in New York is generally considered to be a pain, but it doesn’t have to be. Take your time to find the right broker or property management company and learn the lingo, and you’ll be in your new home with less trouble than you thought was possible.

Windsor Communities aims to make your apartment hunting experience as pleasant as possible. Learn more about Windsor Property Management Co. and our available luxury, no-fee apartments in New York City in Murray Hill, NoHo, and the Upper West Side.

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