What is considered an illegal apartment in New York City?

Everyone who's ever lived in New York City knows that finding and renting a good apartment can be a long, difficult process. If you have been in a protracted apartment search, you may feel like giving up or just taking the next available unit you find.

That's understandable, but you need to be careful. When you are rushed or frustrated, you might overlook warning signs that the apartment isn't legal. This can result in a dangerous living situation.

How can you tell if an apartment is illegal?

Warning signs of illegal apartments may include:

  • There is no lease.
  • The landlord insists on receiving cash payments.
  • The landlord wants to meet you at a different apartment before giving out the address.
  • You would be unable to receive mail at the apartment.
  • It has a much lower rent than is typical for the location.

If you encounter any of these things in your search, you may want to reconsider that building.

What are the dangers of an illegal apartment?

Illegal apartment conversions can make apartments extremely dangerous. Basements and attics are the most frequent spaces subject to illegal conversion. The biggest danger here is a lack of adequate egress. If there were a fire, occupants could be trapped.

Another thing to consider is that if the city considers the building to be unsafe and illegal, they may issue a vacate order. This means that you could find yourself without housing, even though you did nothing wrong. So be diligent in your search for an apartment and take the time to ensure it's a legal dwelling.

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