Apartment finder's fee to a friend?
December 15, 2012 8:34 AM   Subscribe

Paying an apartment finder's fee to a friend who's place will soon be available?

A friend of mine is looking for an apartment in Philadelphia. A friend of her's is moving out of his apartment soon. He is willing to help facilitate her getting his apartment before it would be put on the market by the rental agency, for a fee. He isn't a close friend (more like a friend of a friend), but it still seems a little weird to be asking for a month's rent as a finder's fee. Is this weird, or is it a common thing to ask for a fee in this situation? My friend is very anxious to find a place quickly and is willing to agree to this, but can't help feeling that she is being taken advantage of just a little bit.
posted by orme to Human Relations (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Tell the idiot to take a hike..sheesh.... She can just contact the rental agency and say she's interested and put a deposit down.....

And, that is not a "friend" by any stretch of the definition...
posted by HuronBob at 8:39 AM on December 15, 2012 [13 favorites]

Maybe things are different in Philly, but I think that's really dickish. Especially since there is presumably no contract between the former and potential tenant, the guy could just walk away with his money and scam him. Definitely just contact the rental agency and say "I heard apartment 101 is coming available and I'm interested."
posted by radioamy at 8:40 AM on December 15, 2012 [9 favorites]

Usually for this sort of thing you split the difference between what an agency would charge and zero. So if an agency charges a month's rent to the new tenant, you can ask for half that. But I don't know whether rental agencies in Philadelphia typicaly charge tenants some sort of finder's fee -- if they don't, then it's jerky to ask for anything, and if they charge a month, it's jerky to ask for the same month. It's not like the friend leaving the apartment has had to do any work.
posted by jeather at 8:47 AM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've lived in Philly and this is weird.
posted by smirkyfodder at 8:53 AM on December 15, 2012

Sounds like a scumbag.
posted by wrok at 9:10 AM on December 15, 2012 [3 favorites]

Sometimes the categories people choose for their questions say more than the question itself. This isn't a human relations question, it's a money question. This is a financial transaction. This guy isn't a friend, he's not doing favors, there's no social landscape to negotiate.

If your friend is willing to pay a month's rent to an individual who doesn't own or manage the property and can't provide any guarantees about the lease arrangement that results from his involvement, then that's a financial decision she's willing to make, no more no less.

Maybe she considers it worth it to avoid the hassle of doing the research and negotiations of finding a place on her own. But again, this guy is just another tenant, he's not the owner or property manager. What would his "willingness to facilitate" involve beyond passing her name/contact info to the property manager? Surely your friend is capable of doing that on her own.
posted by headnsouth at 9:10 AM on December 15, 2012 [3 favorites]

Unless the current tenant somehow inexplicably has the final say on who the new tenant should be, there is absolutely no reason for anyone to pay him anything to do or say anything to anyone.
posted by elizardbits at 9:23 AM on December 15, 2012 [5 favorites]

Yeah unless he can guarantee she gets the place, in such a way that she would have recourse against him if she didn't, then this is nonsense and the guy is a scumbag.

Better to contact the rental agency, preferably in person, say "I heard Apt X is coming vacant, I would love to rent it, here are my excellent references" and pay the deposit. They'll be happy not to have to list it, it costs them money to do so.
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:30 AM on December 15, 2012 [6 favorites]

Are you/she certain this isn't in the nature of a sub-let?
posted by uncaken at 9:58 AM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh no, this is bull. I live in Philly. I paid a $35 application fee when I applied, but got to look at numerous apartments for free. If your friend wants recommendations on where to live or how to get a place, feel free to MeMail me.
posted by DoubleLune at 10:27 AM on December 15, 2012

elizardbits: Unless the current tenant somehow inexplicably has the final say on who the new tenant should be

This part I can confirm is more or less true for some apartment complexes, though I can't specifically confirm for Philly. A number of landlords in the Chicago neighborhood where I lived last year, especially those who only owned a few buildings, liked to let their tenants pass on apartments to their friends and would only post public listings if they didn't find tenants this way. It was sort of a way for landlords to 'pre-screen' their next tenants. I can't remember if this was specifically the case with our place, but we did pass it on to my roommate's friends and I don't specifically recall it ever being shown to anyone else.

But asking for a finder's fee? Asking for a month's rent as the finder's fee?? No, that's insane.
posted by capricorn at 12:17 PM on December 15, 2012

Oh hell no.

posted by desuetude at 4:17 PM on December 15, 2012

Not a Philly-ite, but - a finder's fee? Oh HELL no. That's otherwise known as a "bribe" and no way is the potential renter obliged to pay; the person asking for the bribe shouldn't be allowed to shake down their friends/acquaintances/friends of friends.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 5:31 PM on December 15, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone. Sounds like she's going to skip this "opportunity" altogether.
posted by orme at 6:02 AM on December 16, 2012

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