Q: What is an Apartment Information Vendor? Are licensed real estate brokers, associate real estate brokers and salespersons exempt from needing this license?
A: An Apartment Information Vendor (“AIV”) is defined under New York Real Property Law Section 446-b (the “AIV Law”) as, “any person who engages in the business of claiming, demanding , charging, receiving, collecting or contracting for the collection of, a fee from a consumer for furnishing information concerning the location and availability of real property, including apartment housing, which may be leased, rented, shared, or sublet as a private dwelling, abode, or place of residence.” The important portion of the definition is the term “furnishing information.” For example, an AIV provides consumers, for a fee, with lists of available apartments that meet certain criteria.
It is unlawful for anyone to engage in the AIV business without first having obtained a license from the Secretary of State. Some of the regulations an AIV must comply with include; (i) providing a full refund (less a $15 administration fee) if the lists sold by the AIV do not lead to the rental of an apartment; (ii) citing the source of any property listed; (iii) charging a fee that does not exceed one month’s rent and (iv) holding the fee paid by the consumer in a bank account while the consumer is using the services of the AIV. The license application fee is $400, is good for one year and is renewable each subsequent year for a $250 fee.
Licensed real estate brokers, associate real estate brokers and salespersons (“Real Estate Licensees”) are not exempt from the AIV Law. Accordingly, Real Estate Licensees who engage in activities that fit the statutory definition of an AIV (i.e. selling lists of available properties) must obtain the AIV license in order to lawfully conduct such a business.
For more information on the AIV Law and the AIV license you can visit the New York State Department of State, Division of Licensing Services website.
The Legal Line Question by:
Neil B. Garfinkel
REBNY Broker Counsel
Partner-in-charge of real estate and banking practices at Abrams Garfinkel Margolis Bergson, LLP