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I am being relocated for work to the Boston metro area.

As I'm starting the search for a home to rent, I have noticed that many properties are listed through brokers and/or agents.

What is the customary fee that I should expect to pay--as the renter--when considering any of these properties?

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Apartment and homeowners who list with an agent usually are the ones that pay them the fee. Fees are not standardized, but negotiated. It's typical to see a month's rent as the fee, and if it's listed on MLS, the other agent is likely to get 1/2 of that. The tenant shouldn't be paying anything extra.

Curious what part of Metro Boston are you looking at? The 128 belt has a lot of towns to choose from.

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I can only speak from my experience renting in the UK but I feel it's still valid advice - you're the customer, so don't be afraid to negotiate.

The 'fees' are always much higher than the costs of, say, running a credit check (maybe as high as £5) and filling out some forms (maybe 30 minutes, so generously we'll say £20). When we moved into our current property the landlord's agent was asking us for £360 in fees! I knew the property had been empty for a while because it had just been renovated, the garden was untended and the rent had been dropped by 10% at some point in the last few months. I used this knowledge to my advantage and got them to more than halve the fee to 'just' £150. They make more having a good tenant in the property than they do with an empty property so don't be afraid to walk away, especially if there are plenty of places available.

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Fifteen years ago, when the rental market was tight, agents were asking up to the equivalent of two months' rent as their commission. (Ouch!) I have no idea what it's running currently. If you're moving for work, you may want to ask your employer whether they'll cover this cost.

(For what it's worth, I wasn't very happy with the agent my employer hired, who among other things didn't understand the terms they were hired under. My best leads actually turned out to be the "buy and sell" board in my office; a co-worker's father had a place for rent that was both larger and cheaper than most of what I'd looked at -- and, of course, no finder's fee. It was in an unfashionable area rather than being right on top of shopping and shows and high-speed public transit, but that didn't bother me.)

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Are you sure you will have to pay those fees/commissions? The cost may very well be rolled into the rental rate by the owner/landlord.

The owner wants to find tenants. They hire a company/broker to advertise, show, and process the paperwork for that unit.

As a owner may years ago I paid one months rent for the process. It was split with the other agent when a renter was found. It worked the same way the process worked when selling a place.

Ask.

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