When my roommate and I began looking for an apartment in college, we really didn’t know where to start or even what neighborhoods to consider. Early on in the search we found a pretty nice place in what appeared to be a good neighborhood (knowing what I know now, it is a great neighborhood and a great location).
We were shown the apartment by a teenage girl who was apparently working for the broker, which was kind of annoying but also kind of par for the course. Then later met with the broker in her small office in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. For the sake of full disclosure her name was Ula, and you should never, ever go to her for your apartment needs.
Anyway, we liked the apartment. The price was right. Our moving deadline was also rapidly approaching and we were getting nervous. So we told the broker that we’d take the apartment. She wanted a full month’s rent as her fee and a full month’s rent as a security deposit and asked for at least the fee in cash. We asked her if the apartment was ours and she said that she hadn’t talked to the landlord yet and that other people also wanted it so there would be no lease signing. We asked if we could have a receipt for our fee and she said no. At this point it became pretty clear that she was trying to rip us off.
I told her that no money would be changing hands unless we were signing a lease and that’s when things got ugly. She then started calling us names and telling us how stupid we were and how big-time she was and how we were just spoiled kids who didn’t know what we were doing. It was all fairly strange and inappropriate. She also said that she didn’t need our $1500 because she makes so much in a month that that’s just pennies to her (Note- her office was basically one small room with stained carpet and water damage- very very ritzy, in other words. One could compare it to Trump’s office really.).
In the end we opted to not hand over $1500 in cash that day. And when we got home that night my roommate called the Better Business Bureau to leave a complaint and found that there were several left already. When I mentioned this to my dad he asked if we had checked with the Better Business Bureau before we met to pay her. Oopsie. Lesson learned though. The moment that you think something is off or shady, don’t hand over any money. And don’t be afraid to do research and ask for receipts!