What Constitutes an Illegal Apartment in NYC

  • July 30, 2018
  • dominickciccarelli

Finding an apartment in New York City isn’t easy. With sky rocketing rental prices and crammed spaces, it is difficult to find the quintessential apartment. If you’re new to New York City and are not going through a broker, you’re likely to get exhausted and desperate in no time (especially if it’s fall or winter) and land yourself in a tricky an illegal rental situation.
In order to avoid this, Dominick Ciccarelli, a licensed general contractor registered with the New York City Department of Buildings, recommends that you read this quick New York apartment rental guide before you begin the hunt.

Signs That Suggest the Apartment May Be Illegal

  • Your landlord asks for a non-refundable deposit: All deposits are refundable, except for a specific fee mentioned in advance by your landlord.
  • You are not provided a rental agreement/lease: Irrespective of who owns the apartment, there must always be a written rental agreement that states that you are both bound by contract to convey land for a specific period of time in return for periodic payment.
  • If you’re being charged a lower price than the average rent in the area: Even though a lower rent is a good thing temporarily, it can land you in deep trouble which can cost you heavily later on. So, if your apartment costs significantly lesser than all the other apartments in the neighborhood, avoid taking it up!
  • The landlord insists on payments in cash: Rent amounts are not small, especially not in New York City. So, if your landlord expects that you pay your rent by cash, treat it as a warning sign and refuse the apartment.
  • Basement and attic apartments: If you find a basement or attic apartment, with no windows, do not hesitate to reject it. Such apartments are mostly illegal and even if they are legal, they’re not safe for residents because of the potential carbon-monoxide poising and fire hazards.
  • No mailbox: If your landlord suggests that you get a separate PO box to receive your mail, it is highly likely that your apartment is illegal. No matter where you stay, if the apartment is legally leased, you will be able to receive mail.

Consequences of Staying in an Illegal Apartment in New York

There are several consequences of staying in an illegal apartment.

  • First and foremost, illegal apartments are unsafe. If there is a case of fire and the emergency exits are not fully functional, it poses a great deal of risk to the lives of the occupants of the apartment.
  • Renting an illegal apartment may result in a heavy fine levied upon the tenants.
  • The occupants of the apartment will be evicted from the house without any notice and this can lead to a desperate and homeless situation for the renters

So, even though the process of finding an apartment in New York City is taxing and tiring, be patient and look for an apartment that is legal and safe for you and your family before rushing into something that could result in a great deal of trouble later on.