Boston, MA asked in Real Estate Law for Massachusetts

Q: Can I withhold my broker's fee payment?

The home my broker found us has delayed our move-in date multiple times as they haven't gotten their BFD inspection. This possibility of delay was a clause in the lease and I was nervous about it but my broker told me that they only really put that clause in 'in case of natural disaster or something crazy happens.'

Currently, we have been left homeless for over a week. He hasn't been able to help situate us in the meantime. I find it hard to believe that the landlord or broker wasn't aware of the situation beforehand. I think it's a possibility that the broker was trying to rush the process of us signing the lease and didn't inquire about concerns so he could get his broker's fee.

If I feel like he knowingly found me a bad home that has led to lots of distress and chaos, can I refuse to pay him?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Christopher Tolley
Christopher Tolley
  • Boston, MA
  • Licensed in Massachusetts

A: If the possibility of delay was written into the lease there would be an argument that you assumed the risk of delay and therefore have no recourse for your losses due to the delay. You should examine any separate contract you may have with the broker as to whether and how his fee is earned. Maybe there is something in that agreement that would give you a right to withhold some or all of his fee. If you are incurring costs for the alternate housing, you might consider reminding him you signed the paperwork based on his representation and now you ae having to spend extra money so it is only fair that he should negotiate a reduction in his fee.

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