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Curbed Reader Query: Cash Up Front in Billyburg?

Here's an email that just popped up in our inbox we'd be remiss not to note:

Dear Curbed: My son is at NYU, and he and his roommate are looking to rent in Wmsburg. The real estate management co. is asking them to turn over a month's rent ($1,750) in cash (!) or a certified check before they'll deign to do the credit/background check that will lead to the drawing up of a lease. Is this, as we used to say, "kosher"? Is that how it's done in NYC these days? I haven't rented in NY since 1975 (A.D.) so I don't know. The Better Biz Bureau has nothing on file against the r.e. company ([name redacted]), but all us parents are weirded out. Your thoughts? Thanks in adv. From L.A.,
[Concerned Parent]
Personally, we wouldn't give $1750 in cash to anyone, let alone a management company in Williamsburg, without a deed signed in cat blood. But maybe we're old-fashioned, too, and this sort of thing is indeed "kosher" these days. Thoughts on this parent's predicament? Hit us at tips@curbed.com.
· The Landlord Giveth, and the Landlord Taketh Away [Curbed]