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Under what exact circumstances are you allowed to legally…

Under what exact circumstances...

Under what exact circumstances are you allowed to legally have a kitchen AND a 3 piece bathroom in a cellar? It's a 2 family with a finished basement that I'm looking to legalize. Because it's a cellar I know it's never legally rentable which is fine because only a non paying family member would occupy the space.

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
From what I've read you can legally have a 3 piece bathroom in a cellar so long as there an open floor plan (no walls or partitions) however I can't find anything regarding the legality of a secondary/accessory kitchen. Cabinets, sink and either electric stove or cooktop (preferably electric stove if legal)
Answered in 9 hours by:
3/12/2018
Attyadvisor
Attyadvisor, Attorney
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 8,886
Experience: 30 years of experience in General Practice, Real Estate Law and Estate Law.
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Welcome and thank you for your question. I will be the professional that will be assisting you. We would need to check the local code requirements. Where in New York City is the property located?

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In the meantime I will provide the general requirements for NYC:


"Basements and cellars differ in their amount of height above curb level. A basement has at least one-half of its height above curb level, while a cellar has less than one-half of its height above curb level. Usually, if a cellar has any windows, the windows are too small for an adult to fit through.Basements and cellars in residential properties of all sizes can NEVER be lawfully rented or occupied unless the conditions meet the minimum requirements for light, air, sanitation and egress, and have received approval by the Department of Buildings. You can check the Certificate of Occupancy on the DOB website to see if the basement you wish to rent is legal. DOB also posts Tips for Renters to help identify when an apartment is illegal.Occupants of illegal basement and cellar apartments face potential dangers such as carbon monoxide poisoning, inadequate light and ventilation, and inadequate egress in the event of a fire. Occupants of illegal basement and cellar apartments may be ordered by the City to vacate or leave any illegal basement or cellar apartment.Both HPD and DOB may inspect for illegal occupancy of basements or cellars. Each agency may issue violations of the Housing Maintenance Code or Environmental Control Board (ECB). If you receive an ECB violation for this condition, you must appear or respond to the violation or risk default penalties. For more information on violations, see Environmental Control Board" http://www1.nyc.gov/site/hpd/owners/basement-cellar.page

"Basements that meet certain requirements can be legally rented. General requirements for multiple dwellings, as outlined under the New York City Housing Maintenance Code, include the following:

  • The ceiling height meets minimum requirements, depending on when the building was constructed.
  • Lighting, ventilation, sanitation and egress meet NYC Department of Building requirements.
  • Walls and ceilings are built of a light-colored material or are painted white, or some other light color.
  • Walls must be damp- and water-proofed if the NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development (HPD) determines that subsoil conditions require such treatment.
  • The space needs to comply with all other NYC requirements for dwellings not located in the cellar or basement, in addition to more restrictive standards that apply to these spaces.

Building owners of a two-family dwelling cannot rent a basement apartment without filing for a new certificate of occupancy. Otherwise, the addition of a basement dwelling would change the status from a two-family building to a multiple dwelling (three-family or more)." https://www.citybuildingowners.com/rules-for-new-york-city-basement-rentals/

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Bedroom Requirements:

A legal bedroom can’t be smaller than 7 feet wide and it must have a window...

Furthermore, legal bedrooms must have access to a bathroom without needing to pass through another bedroom. Bedrooms occupied by a single person require a minimum of 70 square feet of floor area, and the bedroom cannot be the only exit for any other bedrooms, according to the code." https://www.brownstoner.com/real-estate-market/basement-apartment-legal-bedroom-requirements-rental-no-windows-size/

Bathroom Requirements: Yes a three piece bathroom is considered a full bathroom and legal:

"In addition to having its own entry and exit, the basement must be able to accommodate a toilet, tub, and sink. Every room must have at least one window, and the bottom of the yard or any other open space must not be higher than six inches below the window sill." http://greenlightexpediting.com/converting-basements-legally-in-new-york-city/

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
I'm in Queens, NY.Also I've read many of those requirements to make a basement apartment legal, however I don't know if they also apply directly to a cellar. Meaning that if the cellar meets requirements for egress (it's has 2 exits), ventilation (1 window in each room), lighting (16 pot lights) and ceiling heights (7'5"), the can it at least be occupied by a non paying family member already living in the same house anyway?Then even if it still cannot be legally occupied, how can I at least make the area into an "additional/accessory living space" for the rest of the home members? In either circumstance can I still have both a 3 piece bathroom AND a kitchen in a CELLAR with the department of buildings saying it's an apartment and that we can't have it?
Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Without* the DOB

The information I provided applies to a legal cellar. The cellar must meet the same requirements as a basement to be legal. The bedroom must be 7 feet wide. The bedroom can not be the only exit. The three piece bathroom is required, Every room must have at least one window, and the bottom of the yard or any other open space must not be higher than six inches below the window sill."

http://greenlightexpediting.com/converting-basements-legally-in-new-york-city/

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Ok thanks. From everything ve read there's no such things as a legally lovable cellar no matter what requirements you meet. Which us strange to me if you have 2 means if egress and 1 window in each room. In that note, I'm assuming there does not need to be a window in the bathroom right?

Correct. They do not make this easy.

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
no matter what you can never rent a cellar which is fine. But can it ever be legally occupied by a family member to live in without paying? Or do you have to file it as an open/accessory area as addition recreational or storage space for the home?Also if you could touch up the legality of a full kitchen in a cellar

I see that many people have made renovations to use the cellar as a win cellar, sitting room etc. You would need to contact the Building Department to discuss the particular uses that would apply to your structure. The language addresses illegal rentals. Your issue would be insurance coverage and liability if anything happened to any person living in the cellar.

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This link sets out the legal distinctions between a basement and a cellar https://www.brownstoner.com/real-estate-market/cellar-vs-basement-nyc-renting-legal-living/

Let me pull up kitchen requirements.

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The kitchen requires a cooking area that complies with the plumbing and electrical codes.

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
from what you can tell even if a cellar is not legally able to be made into an apartment where someone can live, you can still put in a bathroom as well as a kitchen and not have legal any issues? Essentially and I want to know if there's any law prohibiting me from putting a full kitchen in a Cellar regardless of whether or not it's being rented

You have to apply for a permit with the city. They would be able to tell you if you meet the plumbing and electrical requirements to use the cellar for other uses.

This link sets out when a family member can legally live in a cellar as opposed to a tenant.

http://www1.nyc.gov/assets/hpd/downloads/pdf/PreservationSvcsBrochure_BasementCellar-new.pdf

Attyadvisor
Attyadvisor, Attorney
Category: Real Estate Law
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Experience: 30 years of experience in General Practice, Real Estate Law and Estate Law.
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