They don't need to pay a fee.
Some companies get their fee from the owners and some get a fee from the renter.
It depends on the company.
They should disclose any fee to you when they first show you units.
Of course choosing an experienced local real estate pro can help you save a lot of time.
(Not me for Boston, I'm on the Cape, but I can help you choose a local pro when you are ready.)
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there are 3 possible scenarios when it comes the broker fee:
tenant pays full fee
owner pays full fee
owner pays a portion of the fee and tenant pays the rest.
A good real estate agent can save you many hours of valuable time in looking for housing that meets your criteria, arranging showing and coordinating between the landlord, current tenants and other incidentals/conflicts that may crop up.
However as previously mentioned there are several ways an agent can be compensated, by the landlord, by the renter or a combination of both. In boston due to the current supply and demand it is usually the renter who usually pays the fees, but some landlords do offer to help.
In my experience even the properties that are "no broker fee" the fee is rolled into the rent, so in the end you always pay it.
Best Of Luck
That might be true in Nags Head. It's a different custom here in Boston where the question from Murphy Law was asked.
In this market, renters typically pay the broker fee.
If you want to avoid paying any fees don't use a broker.