Home Buying in Crown Heights>Question Details

Lynne, Home Buyer in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn...

How difficult is it to change a legal 1 family into a 2 family residence? Is it necessary to have this done if the house is "owner?

Asked by Lynne, Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, NY Fri Jun 3, 2011

occupied"? I am looking at a brownstone it is a legal 1 family although it is configured as a garden rental (separate entrance) with the upper floors as the owner residence. What are repercussions if we rent out the garden level without converting the to a 2 family? How difficult would it be to make the change to a legal two family? It is not currently set up with 2 electrical meters so that would need to be done but what are the other issues? Also, if the garden floor was used as a "vacation" rental (i.e. "homeaway.com), would there be the same legal issues? The house is in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

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Dear Lynne:

If you call the Department of Buildings they have an "Engineer of the Day" to field calls in the afternoon. They will be able to help you.

Bonnie Chernin and David Rogoff
Fillmore Real Estate Branch #19
2926 Avenue J
Brooklyn NY 11210
917-593-4068 – David mobile
646-318-5031 – Bonnie mobile
davidrogoff@fillmore.com – E-mail
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jun 21, 2011
This can be a bit of a hornet's nest.

First of all, make sure it is not a legal 2 family now. I know of a house in Williamsburg that is a legal 2 family because it has a letter from the Dept of Buildings (DOB) declaring it a legal 2 family, but it is being taxed as a 1-family. On sale that will probably be fixed, but city records are misleading on this one. So, your first step is to make sure the status is what you think it is.

Sounds like, it is a 1 family being used illegally as a 2 family. That word "illegally" pretty much sums up the ramifications.

I have been told by clients that converting a 1 to a 2 in NYC is impossible, but I don't believe this; I think it depends on the neighborhood and many other factors. One approach for you is to get a DOB expediter to make a judgment about the prospects. They usually work big properties but there's no reason why you couldn't get an expediter to help you. (An attorney with deep experience might also work, but would be a more expensive consult). The expediter would also take care of the paperwork.

A hotel or a bed and breakfast is not the same as renting for a month, and there are different laws for different situations. But remember in New York City, you fall under landlord-tenant law whenever you rent past a certain number of days to the same party. This is definitely something you want to educate yourself about before you become a landlord in NYC.

Karla Harby VP
Lic Real Estate Salesperson
Rutenberg Realty
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jun 8, 2011
You may want to contact the city inspections and permits department as they'll best be able to address your situation as that can handled very differently depending on the specific location of the property.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jun 3, 2011
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