Q: I have a legal question I was hoping you could answer. Let’s say I have a website where tenants can browse around and find rentals. It’s free for prospective tenants to use. However, to post a rental on the website, the landlord has to pay $19.99 a month.
Keep in mind I have no real connection to the landlord, and I do not personally take the tenant to the landlord’s rental or work with the tenants at all. In a nutshell, the landlords pay me to post their rental(s) on my website for tenants to browse and get an idea as to where they want to rent.
My question is: Is it legal to receive a commission from the landlord (i.e. the 19.99 per month) for having their vacant rental listed on my website even if I don’t have a real estate license?
In other words, do you need a real estate salesperson’s license to receive compensation in this scenario? Thank you for your help.
A: I’m not an attorney, but it seems to me that you’re an information publisher, not a participant in the real estate transaction. The investor is buying an ad on your website. You get paid whether the unit is rented or not. It appears from your description as though your business isn’t all that different from Craig’s List or a newspaper’s online classified advertising section, where real estate agents are charged a flat fee to put their real estate listings on that website.
Please talk to an intellectual property attorney for further clarification, and good luck with your venture.
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