In this policy brief, CHPC identifies regulatory reforms that could facilitate basement apartment conversions by making them safer, easier, and more affordable.
Many of New York City’s basement apartments exist within the gray market, due to the financial and regulatory barriers faced by homeowners wishing to undertake a conversion. Keeping these housing arrangements informal jeopardizes the safety and security of both tenants and homeowners, empowering neither with leasehold rights, and allows for unsafe living conditions. Streamlining a pathway for the conversion of basements into safe, legal apartments would make these arrangements safer and more stable for homeowners and tenants, and add urgently needed housing supply during a health, economic, and housing crisis.
Regulatory innovation may be the most powerful tool that policymakers have to create housing as we continue to face a global pandemic that has decimated government budgets.
Citizens Housing & Planning Council is excited to release our latest brief listing regulatory actions that can make basement apartment conversions safer, easier, and more affordable.
Regulatory reform recommendations for basement apartment conversions:
Allow cellar occupancy
Create a DOB point of contact
Permit 7′-0″ ceiling height
Issue a partial certificate of occupancy
Regulate glazed area in aggregate rather than by window
Waive parking requirements for subgrade units
Exclude cellars from FAR when converted into a dwelling unit
Consider a two-family home with a subgrade unit as a private dwelling instead of a multiple dwelling
Exempt new multiple dwellings from adequate adjacent space requirement
Abate property taxes to offset tax increase due to conversion
Expand non-metallic piping options for sprinkler systems
Embrace water mist sprinkler systems for residential applications
Create an amnesty program for work that had been previously done on a subgrade unit without a permit
Learn more about CHPC’s related work
Basement Apartment Conversions
CHPC has many projects focused on supporting the conversion of basement apartments in NYC.
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