Some interesting news came out recently. According to a recent New York Times article, the Department of Buildings has begun issuing fines to agents and brokers who advertise and show illegal apartments for rent. This is a huge deal for not only real estate agents and brokers, but the real estate industry as a whole. The fines have been issued to agents and the companies that they work for and start at $3,600 and can reach as high as 5 times that amount depending on the type of violation.
Here is an excerpt from the article with some further background.
From January to March, inspectors combed through listing Web sites like craigslist, and then, posing as curious potential renters, went to see 50 apartments they considered suspicious. (Telltale signs of an apartment without the proper certificate of occupancy might be a listing that says all utilities are included, for example.)
The department issued fines to 10 agents, including agents at Douglas Elliman and Halstead Property, for listing apartments in a variety of neighborhoods and boroughs, including Park Slope and Brighton Beach in Brooklyn, and Hamilton Heights in Upper Manhattan. All of the apartments were in the basement or the cellar, and most did not have the required two means of egress, the department said. The department says the building code gives it the right to issue fines to agents; in the future, it may go after brokers who supervise the agents as well.
How far the Buildings Department will actually go to crack down and the steps that they will take in the future is still up in the air. However, if this is any indication of how things will be moving as time goes on, real estate agents, brokers and their companies alike will have to take caution in showing or advertising illegal apartments for rent.