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What Is a Legal Bedroom in NYC?

A legal bedroom in NYC needs to have minimum dimensions of 8 feet on either side, including a minimum ceiling height of 8 feet. The room needs to be a minimum of 80 square feet in size, and must have at least two forms of egress. One of these two minimum forms of egress must be a window of no less than 12 square feet. Furthermore, one must be able to access a bathroom without having to pass through any other bedroom in order for a bedroom to be considered legal in NYC.

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Are There Any Exceptions to Be Aware Of?

Yes. If the apartment has 3 or more bedrooms, then ½ of the bedrooms may have a minimum dimension of 7 feet on each side. Furthermore, if the bedroom is located in the basement or the top floor of a converted dwelling such as a multi-family brownstone, it need only have a minimum dimension of 7 feet on each side. If the bedroom has a sloped ceiling, then at least 1/3 of the room must have a ceiling height of at least 7 feet.

More importantly, the window for a legal bedroom cannot be a lot line window. The window must open onto a street, courtyard or yard within the same lot. This little-known fact will invalidate a whole lot of supposedly legal bedrooms in NYC that have been created with lot line windows. Remember that a lot line window will be bricked up at the owner’s expense should a neighboring lot construct a new building that covers the window.

Hotels, boarding schools and the like are considered to be Class B multiple dwellings and are required to only have a minimum horizontal dimension of 6 feet, and minimum square footage of 60 feet.

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Are Closets Required for a Legal Bedroom?

Contrary to what most real estate brokers might tell you, a closet is not a requirement for a legal bedroom in NYC. With that said, you should carefully consider the negatives of a bedroom not having any closet space. Not only will it be uncomfortable for you while living there, it will also be less marketable when you try to sell the apartment.

The lack of closet space might be offset by ample closet space elsewhere in the apartment, or if the apartment has dedicated storage space or lockers somewhere else in the building. Keep in mind that some buildings will advertise storage space, but not have any available which means you’ll have to be on a wait list.

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Considerations to Buying a Duplex

Buyers need to be very careful when presented with a duplex apartment. They need to verify that the duplex apartment actually consists of two real floors, vs just one floor with very high ceilings. The easiest way to do this is to verify whether the ceiling heights on each floor meet the requirements for a legal bedroom in NYC.

If the ceilings for each level of the duplex are at least 8 feet in height, and the total ceiling height is therefore at least 16 feet, then you may indeed be buying a true duplex.

More often than not however, an apartment is marketed as a duplex when in reality it is simply a single floor loft apartment with a mezzanine area that has been built into a sleeping area. If you are fooled into counting this as square footage, you can be in for a really nasty surprise when it comes time to sell.

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Disclosure: Hauseit and its affiliates do not provide tax, legal, financial or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal, financial or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal, financial and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction. The services marketed on are provided by licensed real estate brokers and other third party professional service providers. Hauseit LLC is not a licensed real estate broker nor a member of any multiple listing service (MLS).

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