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Old 07-03-2008, 01:25 PM
 
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Default Basement Apartments... Town of Babylon

Just wondering.... are basement apartments legal in the Town of Babylon? I know accessory apartments have to be up to a certain code, but I've always heard that basement apartments are illegal, regardless of anything.

The reason I ask is because we're trying to get out of Wyandanch and the only thing I can afford is probably going to be a basement studio. I want to make sure it's legal to live in one.
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Old 07-03-2008, 01:28 PM
 
Location: Queens
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You can, the trouble would be finding one that's not occupied, I imagine.
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Old 07-03-2008, 04:07 PM
 
Location: Huntington, NY
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There is no such thing as a basement apartment that is legal...anywhere.
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Old 07-03-2008, 04:20 PM
 
Location: home...finally, home .
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There is a difference between a cellar and a basement.

I believe that there has to be an outdoor entrance & windows that are not underground for it to be legal. But, Babylon has so many illegal apartments ( the village has tons of tiny houses tucked in back of other homes) that I am sure you have nothing to worry about.
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Old 07-04-2008, 06:21 PM
 
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The problem I have is finding something that's affordable and I think the only route I can go is the studio route. 1BR (decent) apartments are going for $1250 and better and I just cannot realistically afford that.

I looked around on the internet and it looks like most studios are going for $825 - $950. That's somewhat affordable in my circumstance.

Gigi, isn't there a way a LL can bring a basement apartment up to code for it to be legal? Why are all basement apts illegal? (and I absolutely intend to ask the LL for a certificate of occupancy to prove the place is legal before I move in. I've had it with unaccountable slumlords!)
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Old 07-04-2008, 11:03 PM
 
Location: Queens
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I realize Gigi has Real Estate Agent underneath the name and probably knows more than me about housing and all of that, but I'd have to say legal basement apartments do exist, as long as there's a separate entrance directly to the basement among a few other things. What I wonder is if you can have the entrance to the basement after a common door or does it have to go directly outside? Because that's how many 2nd floor apartments are, I wouldn't see why it should change just because one's a basement.
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Old 07-05-2008, 01:09 AM
 
Location: Wellsville, Glurt County
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From the Babylon Town Code Chapter 153 Section 18 (Criteria for granting special permits for accessory apartments):

Quote:
In order to be granted a special permit for an accessory apartment, the following criteria and requirements must be met:

A. The dwelling must be owner-occupied. No accessory apartment permit shall be awarded to an applicant where the same individual or individuals appear as the owner or co-owner of any interest in any other dwelling in the Town of Babylon that has been granted an accessory apartment permit.

B. The dwelling must have adequate on-site parking spaces per dwelling unit. The parking spaces must be paved with asphalt, concrete or other suitable material of a permanent nature as may be approved by the Board. The Board may waive these requirements if it finds these requirements not to be feasible and upon the recommendation of the Commissioner of Planning and Development.

C. The owner-occupant may reside in the accessory apartment.

D. Each dwelling unit must have a minimum of 350 habitable square feet. One of the dwelling units shall be limited in size to a total of three rooms, not including a kitchen, a living room or bathrooms. No rental unit may be contained in any building or structure other than the main dwelling. No part of the rental unit may be contained in the cellar***. This section shall apply to all new accessory apartment applications and all pending accessory apartment applications not yet decided by the Board and shall not apply to renewal applications and transfer applications. [Amended 9-2-2003 by L.L. No. 17-2003; 10-7-2003 by L.L. No. 23-2003]

E. The dwelling shall have only one front entrance; all other entrances will be on the side or in the rear of the dwelling. However, this requirement may be waived by the Commissioner of Planning and Development or his designee if, in his discretion, he determines that the additional door is in existence and is in keeping with the general character of the area. An entrance leading to a foyer, with entrances leading from the foyer to the two dwelling units, will be acceptable. The Board may waive these requirements if it finds them not to be feasible and upon recommendation of the Commissioner of Planning and Development.

F. The dwelling must comply with all requirements of the New York State Building Code Editor's Note: See Ch. 89, Building Construction. and all the laws and housing regulations of the State of New York and the Town of Babylon relating to the permits granted hereunder and be maintained in a neat and orderly manner.

G. The applicant will be required to file a form stating that the subject dwelling shall meet with all New York State Building Code requirements and all Town of Babylon requirements pertaining to accessory apartments. The applicant will be required to meet these standards within a time period stipulated by the Accessory Apartment Review Board or the permit will become null and void and of no further force or effect.

H. No application shall be approved for an accessory apartment permit pursuant to this article for a period of three years from the issuance of a certificate of occupancy for the dwelling.
*="Cellar" is defined in the Town Code as "That space of a building that is partly or entirely below grade, which has more than half of its height, measured from floor to ceiling, below the average established curb level or finished grade of the ground adjoining the building.", while "basement" is defined as having more than half of it's height above grade. By these definitions, most basement apartments would fall into the cellar category.

I think the only way around it would be to find a legal "cellar" apartment that had a COO and has been grandfathered in. If you read the fine print, it only applies to applications that were new or pending as of 2003. Still, I think you'll find that most of these apartments were never legal even when they were allowed to be.

On the bright side, I think if you look long and hard enough, you'll eventually come across a legal studio in a decent area for $925. I've definitely seen them listed, just not that often!
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Old 07-06-2008, 10:11 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by omigawd View Post
Gigi, isn't there a way a LL can bring a basement apartment up to code for it to be legal? Why are all basement apts illegal? (and I absolutely intend to ask the LL for a certificate of occupancy to prove the place is legal before I move in. I've had it with unaccountable slumlords!)
You can have a basement apartment that is legal. Most of the changes that you will need to make are to the windows. You will have to install "egress" windows which are windows that are large enough for a fire fighter in full gear to fit through. I had this done in my basement (although I do not have an apartment down there). They need to dig out a huge window well and then cut through the foundation.
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Old 07-06-2008, 06:18 PM
 
Location: Kings Park & Jamesport
2,429 posts, read 5,342,328 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TomMoser View Post
You can have a basement apartment that is legal. Most of the changes that you will need to make are to the windows. You will have to install "egress" windows which are windows that are large enough for a fire fighter in full gear to fit through. I had this done in my basement (although I do not have an apartment down there). They need to dig out a huge window well and then cut through the foundation.
Tom is correct it has to do with egress for fires, you must have TWO points of egress for each bedroom. Typically this is one door and one window which exceeds 5.7 square feet.

In reality, the fire code issues are the most important for the safety of you and your children.
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Old 07-09-2008, 08:43 AM
 
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I am not an expert or hugely experienced by any means, However I disagree with both Tom and KB from my reading of the town code.

Tom and KB are correct in that in order to make a basement habitable you need the egress requirements which normally require a window. I'm not sure if its for any finished basements, or of there is the intent for a bedroom.

However, just because you have a legally finsihed basement does not make it a legal accessory apartment. For that, it sounds like the Babylon code says it can't be in a celler.
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