Basement Apartment Legalization

"Making Room...At Home" - exploring ways to make it feasible for more homeowners to rent out a safe and lawful apartment in the basement of their homes.

At a time when new housing is urgently needed, one of simplest ways that New York City can Make Room – especially for our newest populations – is to allow and encourage homeowners to turn their basements into legal and safe apartments. Renting illegal spaces has become common in many areas of the city, especially in neighborhoods with large concentrations of low and moderate income immigrant communities. The widespread unregulated market offers no legal security to tenants, puts tenant, owners, and firefighters in physical danger, and cannot be eradicated through enforcement alone. A program to create safe and legal basement apartments would protect tenants and owners who are currently operating illegally and informally and add to the stock of basic attainable housing thus creating new safe options for our households.

However, there are three major barriers that have made it nearly impossible for landlords/owners to legalize basement apartments today: 1)  the laws and codes that relate to making a basement apartment safe and legal are complicated and extensive 2) the process is protracted and 3) the costs are prohibitively high. As a result, problem-solving on the topic of illegal basements often gets stuck.

Our goal for this project is to provide some new strategies that could improve fire safety in residential buildings; set up a fresh foundation for the discussion about the legalization of basement apartments; and to provide technical advice to the administration to guide them through this multi-faceted and thorny endeavor.

Featured Event
Making Room: Housing for a Changing America

Making Room: Housing for a Changing America is a new, exciting exhibition showcasing design solutions that help meet the needs of the 21st-century household. The exhibition represents and illustrates how unprecedented shifts in demographics and lifestyles have transformed the idea of the household.

Policy ×+

Steering the New Course: CHPC’s Ideas for Housing and Land Use Policy in New York City

With so much political change in New York this year, we felt that it was important to set out our suggestions and priorities for housing and land use policy based on all of CHPC’s work over recent years. We always aim to be a resource for decision-makers inside and outside of government – to help them to understand NYC’s most pressing housing and neighborhood issues, think through the real impact of policy on the three-dimensional built environment, and map out realistic policy steps for housing and land use that can result in positive change for our city and all New Yorkers.

Informatics ×+

Making Room Exhibition

From January to September 2013, Making Room: New Models for Housing New Yorkers was the showpiece exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York (MCNY).

Related Insights
February 1, 2017 - by CHPC
January 8, 2015 - by CHPC
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