If I used a renter’s agent and6 weeks later my new landlords put the house on the market for sale, do I have a claim against the agent?

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If I used a renter’s agent and6 weeks later my new landlords put the house on the market for sale, do I have a claim against the agent?

I found a new apartment to live in through a broker that was retained as a renter’s agent. She claimed a close personal friendship with the landlords. Then 6 weeks after I move in, I was informed that the property was to be put on the market as they are divorcing. When I called the agent I left a message simply stating that I need to talk to her but she called the landlords first to find out what was going on. I have an attorney who has advised me not to allow showing of my rental property, whose advice I have followed. Do I have a claim against the agent?

Asked on June 10, 2011 under Real Estate Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

First, the attorney is wrong--you DO have to let the property be shown. An owner or landlord has a right, subject to some common and reasonable caveats (reasonable notice--usually 24+ hours; at reasonable times; not too often; etc.) to show a property for the purposes of renting or selling it. A tenant has no right to stop him or her.

Second, whether you have a claim against the agent depends on the circumstances. If she did not know the owner's plans, she did nothing wrong. Even if she did know of the plan, it's only possible, not definite you'd have a claim, since a sale of real estate from person A to person B does NOT terminate the lease or necessarily affect the tenant in any way--the lease goes with the property. Therefore, it's not necessarily something which an agent always has an affirmative duty to disclose and you need to look to the circumstances. Only if  you'd asked  about whether there was any pending sale, or the agent had gone out of her way to say there was no sale when she knew there was one--or alternately, if the agent knew the prospective sale was to someone who was looking to aggressively try to retire the building from residential rental--would there almost certainly be a strong case for misrepresenation or fraud.


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