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Broker fee backlash, IKEA vs. Home Depot, & more

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This week, readers visited Brick Underground for clarification on a surprising change to rental broker fees. The Department of State issued guidance on a section of last year's rent reforms—and ended up creating even more confusion. The memo said when a landlord hires an agent to show an apartment, the landlord pays the broker fee. When a renter hires an agent to show them apartments and help with paperwork, then the renter pays the fee. 

The real estate industry erupted (likely whipped up by other media coverage with headlines like "No more broker fees"). REBNY and several brokerage firms filed a lawsuit arguing the DOS had overstepped its role, and a judge granted a temporary restraining order suspending the guidance until a court date on March 13th.

Here, in full, are this week's top stories.

1) Are rental broker fees illegal now?

2) All broker fees are back and NYC renters have to pay—for now

3) The most expensive neighborhoods in NYC: A buyer's guide for 2020

4) IKEA vs. Home Depot: Which should you choose for a NYC kitchen renovation?

5) The most affordable neighborhoods in NYC: A buyer's guide for 2020

And from this week's sponsors: 

Ask Sam: What are my rights as a market-rate tenant? [sponsored]

How we found a Clinton Hill townhouse and tamed a scary gut renovation: Part I [sponsored]

Can this Brooklyn startup really reinvent home renovation in New York City? [sponsored]