The Nest

NestApple's Real Estate Blog

Featuring real estate articles and information to help real estate buyers and sellers. The Nest features writings from Georges Benoliel and other real estate professionals. Georges is the Co-Founder of NestApple and has been working as an active real estate investor for over a decade.

What Qualifies as a Legal Bedroom in NYC?

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Definition & Requirements of a bedroom legal bedroom in nycReal estate agents (and homeowners alike) will often try to embellish as much as possible when selling a home in NYC. What is the legal definition & requirement for a bedroom? The difference in price between a one-bedroom and a two-bedroom is astronomical, for example. So they might try to squeeze an extra bedroom out of a property whenever possible. That said, it’s essential to understand what brokers call a legal bedroom. That way, if you’re in the market for a home listed as a three-bedroom. But you only see two actual bedrooms; you can combat the false narrative of some additional space counted as a bedroom.

You’ll learn everything about a legal bedroom in NYC in this article. We will explain what it needs to have, the exceptions to the legal bedroom qualifications, including legal bedroom size, and the legal ramifications.

So, without further ado, let’s dive in. Here is everything you need to know about legal bedrooms in NYC and how to qualify as a bedroom.

Qualifications and Exceptions of a Legal Bedroom in NYC

What is the legal requirement for a bedroom? In summary, a legal bedroom in NYC must have minimum dimensions of 8 feet on either side, including a minimum ceiling height of 8 feet. Also, the minimum square footage is at least 80 square feet in size. Furthermore, a bedroom must have at least two forms of egress.

One of them being a window no smaller than 12 square feet. For a bedroom to be considered legal, it must be possible to access a bathroom without passing through any other bedroom.

Legal bedroom size

The most important thing to know about legal bedroom sizes in NYC is the qualifications they must meet (besides the exceptions). As of 2021, New Yorkfloorplan in nyc - multiple City requires that bedrooms include the following:

  • Legal bedroom size. At least 80 square feet of space with no dimension being less than 8 feet. This consists of both directions (length and width).
  • Exception: If the apartment has at least three bedrooms, half can have minimum dimensions of 7 feet rounded down. So, for three bedrooms, one could have a minimum size of 7 feet.
  • The ceiling height must be at least 8 feet high. Combined with the minimum floor space, legal bedrooms must have a minimum of 256 cubic feet in volume.
  • Exception #1: If the bedroom has a sloped ceiling, at least ⅔ of the top needs to be a minimum of 7 feet high.
  • Exception #2: If the bedroom is in the basement, it must only have a minimum ceiling height of 7 feet.

The legal definition of a bedroom: What makes a bedroom legal?

The definition may vary from state to state, but we will focus on New York State.
  • The bedroom must have at least one window facing a garden, yard, court, or street that measures 12 square feet.
  • You must not walk through another bedroom to access the bedroom. You must access the common area, such as a hallway, to be legal.
  • The bedroom must have at least two means of egress or ways to exit the bedroom in case of fire. This must include a window (the window willhow to add a legal bedroom in an apartment count) or a door. They both have to be operable from the inside without using keys or locks.

Does a Legal Bedroom Need a Closet and a Window in NYC?

The legal definition of a bedroom: Does a bedroom Need a Closet?

For some reason, something strange has happened over the years regarding a legal bedroom. Many real estate agents have started pedaling the idea that a legal bedroom must have a closet. Some might say this to try to get the best deal possible.

But many of them genuinely don’t know. Legally, there is no closet required.

But if you hear that, know that it is not true. As of 2021, the NYC building codes do not require a bedroom with a closet to be considered legal. So, if you sell your property and your bedroom meets all the above requirements, don’t worry. If it has a closet or not, you’re good!

The legal definition of a bedroom: Does a bedroom Need a window?

This one is required. As mentioned above in the qualifications list, a bedroom in New York City must have a window to be considered a bedroomcute bedroom legally. This is for the window qualification and the two necessary means of egress.

So, if you’re looking at a property and see a bedroom without a window, it shouldn’t legally be classified as a bedroom! A windowless bedroom is not legally a bedroom in NYC.

Home buyers frequently ask this when considering loft units.

Many NYC lofts have sizeable square footage but very few windows. There is ample space to modify the floor plan and add bonus rooms. However, that does not mean that you can create legal bedrooms.

Leverage the expertise of your buyer’s agent and real estate attorney to have them confirm the current legal configuration of the apartment you are interested in purchasing.

What if You Have to Walk Through Another Bedroom?

This is another one of the qualifications you need to keep your eye on when you’re on the market for a new home. Recall from the list of qualifications above that a bedroom in your home cannot require walking through another bedroom for access.

People must access the bedroom from a common area, such as a hallway or living space. You must be able to access a water closet (bathroom) from it without passing through any other bedroom.

This is especially common in NYC, where people have conversions of other spaces, such as an enormous walk-in closet. If a walk-in closet meets the other requirements, listing agents can try to pass it off as an extra bedroom. But if you have to walk through another bedroom to enter it (like a walk-in closet), it will not be legally counted as a bedroom.

Can I Rent an Apartment With an Illegal Bedroom?

The terms legal bedroom and illegal bedroom might instill fear about renting an apartment in the city. What happens if you don’t know the code well enough and inadvertently list your unit on the market with the wrong number of bedrooms?

Maybe it does not meet the bedroom size. Or, more commonly, what happens if you rent an apartment with an illegal bedroom?

Illegal Bedroom

It isn’t illegal if you’re sleeping in an illegal bedroom or accidentally buying a unit with an illegal bedroom because you will be arrested and tossed in prison.

It just isn’t legal because you can relist it for sale as a legal bedroom. So, in that case, you would’ve likely overpaid for the number of bedrooms you got.

This is why always ensure you and your realtor do your research and know precisely what you’re buying. If you’re interested in a property and realize that one of the bedrooms is not legal, inform the listing agent or homeowner, and you might be able to cut a massive deal because it will have one less bedroom!

Written By: Georges Benoliel

Georges has been working in Wall Street for the last 16 years trading derivatives with hedge funds. He has been an active real estate investor for over a decade. Georges graduated from HEC Business School in Paris and holds a master in Finance from ESADE Barcelona.

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