When navigating the NYC rental market, home hunters may see the term “no-fee rental” and wonder what it means. For some, it is a confusing designation that may elicit joy — “does that mean the apartment is free?” — or fear — “only the worst apartments are no-fee” — when in reality the real meaning of a no-fee rental is rather simple.

No Fee Apartment NYC

Photo by Fleur Losfeld

A quick definition of a no-fee apartment

A no-fee rental is an apartment that doesn’t require the renter to pay a broker’s fee. A broker’s fee is the price a broker or real estate agent charges a renter for finding him or her an apartment — and it can often be in the thousands of dollars.

In some cases, a no-fee rental refers to a unit whose owner has agreed or volunteered to pay the broker’s fee. In other cases, units that are directly rented by the owner or the owner’s representative, such as a building management company, will qualify as no-fee rentals because, not having a broker, they do not have a broker’s fee.

Many of the latter, however, may not be publicly advertised as the owner or management company may rent through personal connections without posting a listing.

no fee apartment

Photo by Jacyln Warren

Myths and facts about the no-fee rental

There’s a common misconception that a no-fee rental is a marketing tactic used to make less-than-desirable apartments seem more appealing. On the contrary, a no-fee rental isn’t indicative of anything beyond the unit’s broker payment situation, or lack of a broker.

A no-fee rental does not necessarily mean the apartment is a better deal than units with a broker fee, since the latter may have slightly lower rent. Again, a no-fee rental only means that, for whatever reason, the buyer will not have to pay a broker’s fee.

no fee apartment

Photo by Jaclyn Warren

How to find a no-fee rental in NYC and Brooklyn

You can begin your search for a no-fee apartment right here on Brownstoner, you can search for NYC as a whole as well as just Brooklyn or Manhattan.