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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

Go deeper

The new Washington

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Axios subject-matter experts brief you on the incoming administration's plans and team.

Rep. Lou Correa tests positive for COVID-19

Lou Correa. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Rep. Lou Correa (D-Calif.) announced on Saturday that he has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Why it matters: Correa is the latest Democratic lawmaker to share his positive test results after last week's deadly Capitol riot. Correa did not shelter in the designated safe zone with his congressional colleagues during the siege, per a spokesperson, instead staying outside to help Capitol Police.

Far-right figure "Baked Alaska" arrested for involvement in Capitol siege

Photo: Shay Horse/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The FBI arrested far-right media figure Tim Gionet, known as "Baked Alaska," on Saturday for his involvement in last week's Capitol riot, according to a statement of facts filed in the U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia.

The state of play: Gionet was arrested in Houston on charges related to disorderly or disruptive conduct on the Capitol grounds or in any of the Capitol buildings with the intent to impede, disrupt, or disturb the orderly conduct of a session, per AP.

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