I am currently using a broker to help me find new tenants for my rental home. Currently, she has only advertised the home on Craig's list. However, at an open house that she was hosting for another home that was for sale, she stumbled across a couple who were looking to rent a home. She immediately brought them over to my property to see if they might be interested.

They loved the home but indicated that they already had signed a contract with another Broker. Now this Broker, who had no part in helping this couple find my rental, is expecting me to pay her 50 percent of one months rent as a commission. I intend to pay my broker a commission, but do I owe this other broker anything? She didn't do anything.

  • Like the answers you have, I think you owe nothing. However having a good relationship and reputation among brokers and agents in the community you live and operate a business in might not be a bad thing. Perhaps 50% is a bad starting point, but that doesn't mean you couldn't try to ease the sting of lost business the other broker feels.
    – MrChrister
    Apr 17, 2015 at 15:41
  • And for an agent, there's nothing worse than making the sale, but finding they are already "working" with another agent. The contracted agent still needs to be an active participant in the process. Seems this one did nothing at all. Even as a landlord that wants to be agent friendly, silly to pay two commissions on one transaction. Apr 17, 2015 at 18:49
  • 2
    @MrChrister you should not be interested in having a good relationship with people who ask you money for no reason.
    – o0'.
    Apr 19, 2015 at 9:50
  • BTW, are you sure it's their agent who asked you money? Or maybe he asked money to the couple and they tried to trick you into paying it yourself? (if that's so, you really don't want they to be your tenants)
    – o0'.
    Apr 19, 2015 at 9:52

3 Answers 3


I am a real estate agent. The issue is not yours, it's between the two agents. The agent with her hand out might have an agreement with your possible tenant, but she did not arrange the deal.

Say you listed your apartment on your own. You have no agreement at all. As an agent, I can send a client your way, but I shouldn't expect compensation.

Finally, if the tenant signed with their agent to be their client exclusively, it's they who owe that fee, not you.


This is really more of a legal question, but I am almost certain the answer is no. I do know that some real estate brokers have a custom of splitting the commission between the seller's broker and the buyer's, but that would be between them and not involve you.

I'd ask this broker to provide you documentation that you owe them the commission. Unless you signed a contract with them it seems unlikely that they will be able to produce anything.

Even if they tried to sue you (unlikely) they would need to provide some evidence that a debt was owed to prevail. No one can unilaterally make you participate in a contract without your consent.

I found this on a Real Estate Attorney's website. It is New York Based, but I'm betting the same principle applies.

A broker is not entitled to compensation on the principle of ratification merely because a person accepts the result of unsolicited service. In order to create an implied contract entitling a broker to a commission, the broker's services must have been performed under such circumstances as to notify the recipient that the services were being performed for him and not for another person.

Further, the recipient must have reason to understand that the services were rendered in expectation of payment of a commission by the recipient. The recipient must have acted in some manner to indicate acceptance of the services. Merely selling or leasing a property to a party voluntarily brought forward by a real estate broker will not render the seller liable to the broker for a commission. Consent to a real estate broker's rendition of unsolicited services will not entitle the broker to a commission without further indications that the recipient intended to enter into a contract for the broker's services.


  • Good excerpt, but that 'other' broker did nothing at all, just claimed to 'own' the client. Apr 17, 2015 at 16:06
  • Does my answer somehow imply that I thought differently?
    – JohnFx
    Apr 17, 2015 at 19:20
  • No, but it's a different point. The above suggests the rendering of services not requested. It seems to me the agent rendered no service at all, but claims the client as hers. Apr 17, 2015 at 19:27
  • @JoeTaxpayer The point is that even if the buyer's agent had done something, the seller still would not owe her anything. He would still only need to pay one commission to the seller's agent, and the seller's agent would pay the buyer's agent if appropriate. It's not the OP's problem either way. Whether or not the buyer's agent did anything useful doesn't matter.
    – Ben Miller
    Apr 18, 2015 at 12:02
  • @BenMiller - agreed. I think my own answer made that point. If you are suggesting that the OP would never be dealing with that other agent, and the discussion is strictly between agents, I agree with that as well. Apr 18, 2015 at 14:14

In CA, you ALWAYS only pay your own broker that you have signed a listing agreement with. Any payment to a cooperating broker is the responsibility of the Lessor's broker, unless otherwise arranged in the original written agreement. You do not have an agreement with the cooperating broker and thus do not owe them anything. If the lease was signed or verbally agreed to before this co-op agent came into the picture, that sucks. This happens all the time and is due to 1 of 2 factors. 1) The agent neglects the needs of their client 2)The client is a bit of a rogue. Either way, you do not owe the Lessee's broker any money as they should take it up with your Broker.

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