West Palm Beach, FL asked in Contracts, Real Estate Law and Collections for Massachusetts

Q: Could I get sued by a real estate agent for not paying their broker fee?

Myself and a friend are looking for a rental apartment in Boston. On of these listing sites, a real estate agent reached out to me offering to help me, without stating there was a fee for service or making me sign anything agreeing to a fee. We finally find a place we like and the agent send us a "sight unseen document and rental Brokerage Fee for the Real estate agency even though the listing states there is NO broker fee (just 1st, last, security deposit). I unfortunately signed the form but my friend caught this and did not sign. Because we are applying together, does this mean we are not legally bound to this document since only 1 of the tenants signed? If we end up applying to the place directly thru the landlord, could the real estate agent sue me? The agent never told us that we would need to pay her directly a broker fee. She told us a lot of places require a broker fee and some don't. Well we found the one that does not.

1 Lawyer Answer
Nicholas Arthur Matlach
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Answered
  • Providence, RI
  • Licensed in Massachusetts

A: This is a difficult case, and one that should be reviewed by a licensed attorney experienced in handling contracts. Here are some considerations for your discussion with an attorney:

- Contractual Obligations: Whether you're bound to the "sight unseen" document depends on its exact wording and if it constitutes a binding contract under Massachusetts law. A contract generally requires an offer, acceptance, and consideration (something of value exchanged).

- Partial Signatures: A contract signed by only one party may be unenforceable. But again, it depends on the specific document language and whether both of you were always intended to be bound to the terms.

- Broker's Fee Disclosure: Real estate agents in Massachusetts are legally obligated to disclose fees upfront. Failing to disclose a fee when the listing stated "no broker fee" could be a misrepresentation.

-Potential Recourse:

-- Document Review: It's highly advisable to have a lawyer in Massachusetts review the document you signed to see if it creates any legal obligations.

-- State Licensing Board: You might consider contacting the Massachusetts real estate licensing board to report the agent's lack of fee disclosure.

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