Illegal Apartments?


The New York Department of Buildings shares the following tips for recognizing an illegal apartment:

  • Windows – Legal rooms require windows with a minimum size of 12 square feet.  Total window area must be 1/10th of the room size.  For example: a 100 square foot room must have at least 12 square foot (the minimum allowed) of window area.
  • Rent – Rents that are significantly lower than comparable apartments
  • Egress – Tenant should be able to access all available exits either directly from the unit or a public hallway.  To be legal, the apartment must have two means of egress.
  • Utilities – A listing in which utilities are included in the rent may be a way to prevent the disclosure of an illegal apartment.
  • Mail – Tenants should be able to receive mail at the building address and should not be required to obtain a separate P. O. Box.

If you suspect the apartment you are considering may not be legal,  you should request a copy of the certificate of occupancy for the building that shows the apartment is legal.  In addition you can search the Department of Buildings’ Building Information System (BIS) for most recent certificate of occupancy to check the stats of the apartment.


  1. Marco says:

    This is good advice for apartment hunters in Manhattan