Broker problem when renting a condo
Q: I am trying to rent my condo. I posted a listing on Craigslist. A company contacted me and asked if they could bring by potential tenants and I agreed. I have not signed any agreement with them, but have emailed and talked with them numerous times. They are very aggressive. Without my express permission they reposted my Craigslist posting and put their phone number on it.
Recently they brought by a tenant I would like to rent to. Unfortunately, they over pressured the tenant. The tenant called me and told me he didn’t feel comfortable with them. He never signed any agreement with them but did submit a rental application for credit check with them which they gave to me.
The company would receive a one month payment for bringing this person to me, but because the client won’t work with them I don’t want to pay them. I offered them $500 to write up the lease but they refused and accused me of undercutting them.
Now they are threatening to sue me if I rent to him. I do not have a signed contract with them and neither does the tenant but they have threatened to sue. Do I or the tenant have an implied contract with them?
A: You might need to talk to a lawyer on this one if you decide not to pay the real estate company the fee that seems to have agreed to pay them, even if it was under a verbal agreement.
Most states have laws that require a real estate broker and agent to have a written agreement for the payment of a commission or finder’s fee when it comes to real estate. Without that written agreement, the real estate broker or agent might be out of luck.
Furthermore, to be in the real estate business, you generally have to have a real estate brokerage license or have an agent license and work for a licensed real estate broker.
Assuming the company you hired to rent your condominium had a valid real estate license in your state and the employees or agents you dealt with at that company were licensed as well, the only thing missing would have been for them to have had a written agreement from you.
You may decide not to pay them anything, but they could decide to sue you. If your state law does not permit them a recovery from you as a result of their failure to obtain a written listing agreement, a written agreement to pay them a commission in finding a tenant for your property, or a written agreement to pay them as an agent representing a tenant, you may have no obligation to pay them. But they can still cause you misery by suing you, forcing you to go to court, having you represent yourself and having the case thrown out as a result of their failure to have the right paperwork.
You would have to balance your desire to not pay them with the risks of becoming involved in that litigation. As with anything you do these days, even when renting a home, you must be careful.
You could decide to pay them and move on. You would have found a tenant you like and never work with that company again.
A final option for you could be to determine if they have violated any real estate agency rules in the state in which you live and if they did, file a complaint against the agency with the agency that regulates real estate agents and brokers in your state.
The choice is yours, but you might have to find out a bit more information about the real estate rules of your state to make a decision.