Sep 24, 2010

What is a Room in New York City Apartments?


Legal definitions and requirements that govern the various types of rooms in New York City’s apartments compiled by REBNY (Real Estate Board of New York)

What is a “room”?
(Source: NYC Administrative Code §§ 27-750, -751, -2058)

•    Size requirements: Generally, a room must have minimum dimensions of 8 feet x 8 feet x 8 feet, and must have a minimum floor area of 80 square feet. A room which opens into an adjoining room may have a minimum floor area of seventy square feet and a minimum horizontal dimension of seven feet. Other exceptions apply to bedrooms and dining rooms (see those definitions).

•    Lighting requirements: Every room must have at least one window that opens onto a street, yard, or court on the same lot. The total area of the windows in the room must at least be one-tenth the floor area of the room. Every part of every room in non-fireproof buildings must be within 30 feet of either a court, or a window opening to a street or yard. Dwelling with three rooms or fewer in fireproof buildings must comply with this requirement as well.

•    Usage requirements: The following are rooms: bedrooms, living rooms, studies, recreation
rooms, kitchens. The following are not rooms: closets, halls, stairs, laundry rooms, bathrooms, foyers, dining spaces.

 What is a “bedroom”?
(Source: NYC Administrative Code § 27-2004, -2076, -2058; MDL § 1-4-18)

•    Definition: A bedroom is a living room used for sleeping purposes.

•    Size requirements: Generally, a bedroom must have minimum dimensions of 8 feet x 8 feet x 8 feet. A bedroom must also have a minimum floor space of 80 square feet, and must be six feet wide at its narrowest part. However, if the apartment contains three or more bedrooms, half of the bedrooms may have minimum dimensions of 7 feet x 7 feet x 7 feet.

•    Lighting Requirements: All bedrooms must have at least one window that opens to a street, yard, or court on the same lot.

The window may also open to a balcony that opens on a street, yard, or court. The total area of the windows in the room must at least be one-tenth the floor area of the room. All required windows must be at least twelve square feet in area.

•    Additional Points:  A room may not be counted as a bedroom if it is a: kitchen, foyer, bathroom,
water closet, dining room, dinette, dining bay, hall, corridor, or passageway. A room may not be counted as a bedroom if an occupant must pass through it to reach other parts of the apartment.

What is a “living room”?
(Source: NYC Administrative Code § 27-2074, -2058; MDL §§ 1-4, 3-31)

•    Definition: A living room is any room other than a dining space, kitchenette, bathroom, foyer, or hallway. A living room can be a bedroom, if it meets the criteria set forth above.

•    Size requirements: Every living room shall have minimum dimensions of 8 feet x 8 feet x 8 feet, must have a minimum floor space of 80 square feet, and must be six feet wide at its narrowest part.

•    Lighting requirements: A living room must have at least one window that opens onto a street, yard, or court on the same lot.

All windows in living rooms must comply with the size requirements for windows in bedrooms: The total area must be at least one-tenth of the floor area of the room. All required windows must be at least twelve square feet.

•    Usage requirements: If a living room is subdivided, each subdivision must comply with all of the above requirements.

What is a “dining space”?
(Source: NYC Administrative Code § 27-2004, -2058; MDL §3-31)

•    Definition: A dining space is an area used for eating that is located off a living room, foyer, or kitchen. A dining space is not a room.

•    Size requirements: A dining space has 55 square feet or less of floor space.

•    Lighting requirements: Dining spaces must comply with the lighting requirements for living rooms. Additionally, windows in dining spaces must have an area at least one-eighth the floor space of the dining space.

What are “kitchens” and “kitchenettes”?
(Source: NYC Administrative Code §§ 27-758, -2004, -2071; MDL §3-33)

•    Definition: Any space used for cooking is either a kitchen or a kitchenette. •    Size requirements: A kitchen is a type of living room and has 80 square feet or more
of floor area. A kitchenette has less than 80 square feet of floor area.

•    Lighting requirements: The lighting requirements for “living rooms” apply to kitchens and kitchenettes.

•    Ventilation requirements: Windows in kitchenettes must have a total area of at least three square feet and be at least ten percent of the kitchenette’s floor area. However, if the kitchenette does not have a window, it may have either a) mechanical ventilation or b) a skylight if the kitchenette is on the top floor.

What is a “foyer”?
(Source: NYC Administrative Code § 27-2004; MDL §3-31)

•    Definition: A foyer is an entry space within a dwelling unit that leads to the public hall. A foyer is not a room.

•    Size requirements: An entry space is a foyer when the floor area does not exceed either a) ten percent of the total floor space of the dwelling unit; or b) twenty percent of the floor area if every living room is larger than 96 square feet.

If the entry space has a floor area of at least 80 square feet, it may be a living room.

What are “basements” and “cellars,” and when may they be occupied as apartments?
(Source: NYC Administrative Code §§ 27-2004, -2082, -2083, -2086-87)

•    Definition: A basement is an enclosed space partly below curb level, but having more than one-half its height above curb level. A cellar is an enclosed space having more than one-half its height below curb level.

•    Occupancy requirements: Units in basements and cellars of multi-family dwellings have complicated requirements regarding their dimensions, lighting, and ventilation, and whether they may be occupied. In addition, no room in the cellar of a one- or two-family dwelling shall be rented and no member of the family or families occupying the dwelling shall use such room for sleeping.

New York City Building Terminology

comments

5 Responses to " What is a Room in New York City Apartments? "
  1. Austin Scott Brooks said...
    October 18, 2010

    Thank you for this helpful information, Mitchell! I'm glad I came across this before scouting out apartments for rent in Manhattan NY.

    Would prospective renters be able to take legal action or haggle with a landlord if they do not follow these guidelines?

  2. tp said...
    March 06, 2015

    I need this same info on private house rentals

  3. LL87 said...
    December 08, 2015

    In this blog post you have mentioned how to make architecture for making new room and other parts of house. but I will wait for new blog post.thanks for sharing this information

  4. Jeff Surowka said...
    January 14, 2016

    If the unit is being called a 1 bedroom, does it have to have a living room?
    Do all apartments other than studios need to have a separate bedroom from a living room in order to be called a 1 bedroom, or can you call the Living room a bedroom, and say it is a 1 bedroom even though there is no Living Room? I ask all this specifically because I see apartments converted where the bedroom areas constitute a real "bedroom", but then the living area has no windows left in what would be the living area.

  5. Mitchell Hall said...
    January 21, 2016

    Jeff, Thanks for commenting. I'm not a lawyer and can not give legal advice. I believe what may be considered legal for living and sleeping may not be legal to market or advertise the apartment as such. A living room can be used as a bedroom if it meets the bedroom criteria. A room may not be counted as a bedroom if an occupant must pass through it to reach other parts of the apartment. Most Living rooms are open. I believe a 1 bedroom where the LR is used as a second bedroom is still a 1 Bedroom apartment or a 3 room apt, LR/BR, BR kitchen bathrooms are counted separately.
    Below is the recommended method of residential room count found in the Residential Guide devised by the Residential Brokerage Division. (Real Estate Board of New York)

    Apartment Room Count:
    1 room Studio with pullman kitchen
    1½ rooms Studio with pullman kitchen and alcove or dining area
    2 rooms Studio with separate kitchen
    2½ rooms Studio with separate kitchen and sleeping alcove
    2½ rooms 1 bedroom with Pullman kitchen and living room
    3 rooms 1 bedroom, living room, kitchen
    3½ rooms 1 bedroom, living room, kitchen, dining alcove
    4 rooms 1 bedroom, living room, kitchen, dining room - or -2 bedrooms, living room, kitchen
    4½ rooms 2 bedrooms, living room, kitchen, dining alcove
    5 rooms 2 bedrooms, living room, kitchen, dining room
    5½ rooms 3 bedrooms, living room, kitchen, dining area
    6 rooms 2 bedrooms, living room, kitchen, dining room, maid's room
    7 rooms 3 bedrooms, living room, kitchen, dining room, maid's room - or -2 bedrooms, living room, kitchen, dining room, 2 maid's rooms
    8 rooms 3 bedrooms, living room, kitchen, dining room, 2 maid's rooms
    9 rooms Typically 3 bedrooms, library, living room, dining room, kitchen, 2 maid's rooms
    10 rooms Typically 3 bedrooms, library, living room, dining room, kitchen, 3 maid's rooms
    11 rooms Typically 4 bedrooms, library, living room, dining room, kitchen, 3 maid's rooms
    12 rooms Typically 4 bedrooms, library, living room, dining room, kitchen, either 4 maid's rooms or servant hall and 3 maid's rooms
    13 rooms 4 bedrooms, library, living room, dining room, kitchen, 4 maid's rooms and servant's hall
    14 rooms 5 bedrooms, library, living room, dining room, kitchen, 4 maid's rooms and servant's hall

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