Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Renting an apartment in New York is ridiculously difficult and expensive, in no small part because of the dominance of a curious tribe of people known as "rental brokers." As the NYT explains, these creatures "have near absolute control over apartment listings, viewing appointments and leases."

Driving the news: In a widely applauded yet unexpected move, New York state regulators have decreed that renters can no longer be charged broker's fees.

How it works: Rental brokers charge astonishing sums for simply bringing together landlords and renters. The standard fee is 15% of the first year's rent, payable up front — that's $6,300 on an apartment costing $3,500 per month.

  • Brokers can charge that much because while they're hired by landlords, the landlords don't pay them, and are therefore price-insensitive. Meanwhile the renters, who have to make the payment, have no real choice but to pay whatever the broker charges.

What's next: If landlords want to continue to use brokers, they will have to pay them themselves. Brokers are warning that the broker's fee will then end up showing up in higher rent. But now landlords will have a clear financial incentive to use cheaper brokers. That should help drive prices down across the industry.

Go deeper: The new housing crisis

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Updated 32 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Political world reacts to Biden tapping Kamala Harris as running mate

Sen. Kamala Harris and Joe Biden at a campaign event in March. Photo: JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP via Getty Images

Democrats from across the party — including some of the women on Joe Biden's vice-presidential shortlist — are championing his historic appointment of Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate.

What they're saying: "Joe Biden nailed this decision," former President Barack Obama wrote in a lengthy statement. "By choosing Senator Kamala Harris as America’s next vice president, he’s underscored his own judgment and character. Reality shows us that these attributes are not optional in a president."

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 4:30 p.m. ET: 20,166,415 — Total deaths: 738,266 — Total recoveries: 12,388,925Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 4:30 p.m. ET: 5,124,050 — Total deaths: 164,329 — Total recoveries: 1,670,755 — Total tests: 62,513,174Map.
  3. States: Florida reports another daily record for deaths State testing plans fall short of demand.
  4. Axios-Ipsos poll: 1 in 2 has a personal connection to COVID-19.
  5. Business: Moderna reveals it may not hold patent rights for vaccine.
  6. 🏈 Sports: Big Ten scraps fall football season.
Updated 2 hours ago - Sports

PAC-12 and Big Ten postpone fall sports due to coronavirus

Photo: Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The Big Ten and Pac-12 announced Tuesday that they've voted to postpone their 2020 fall sports seasons, including football, due to risks posed by the coronavirus pandemic, hoping instead to play in the spring.

Why it matters: The move from two of the most prominent conferences in college sports will almost certainly prompt other Power Five leagues to follow suit.