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Old 02-15-2008, 08:45 PM
 
706 posts, read 2,450,238 times
Reputation: 321
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete Piper View Post
No, it seems it's illegal to turn your basement into a dwelling unit unless it meets certain requirements (like two exists, certain ceiling heights, certain percentage above ground etc) and get permission and a certificate of occupancy. The good news is I don't think you have to let the building inspector into your house unless they have a court order. I'd politely decline to let them in or answer their questions and wait to see if they take it further.

Edit: I just re-read about the summons. Maybe it's best to speak to a lawyer about that.
I'm curious about where you live, but I know in NYC, true dat (post above).

If you fixed your basement up for yourself, that would be one thing, but having renters, disgruntled tenants OR unhappy neighbors is how illegal basements owners are usually busted.

As mentioned, you don't have to let the inspectors in. They may threaten you that they will return with a court order. They may or may not carry it out. It's a busy city.

I know of a couple of folks who were ordered to remove tub, shower, kitchen stove from basement...
have seen big fines as well as basements torn apart, destroyed to prevent further fines.
as they did not fulfill the requirements to make it legal.

For illegal setups, inspectors most often give a fine, then come back to see if you've made changes, if not, then a bigger fine and so on.

Full baths are illegal in NYC basements, although popular opinion is that the kitchen (i.e., stove) is a bigger problem as well as any illegal meters, etc.

To be honest, with an illegal basement and a rooming house situation, the possibility exists for big trouble.

If I were you, I would find out the laws based on where you live.

And DEFINITELY see a lawyer about the summons.

Last edited by DonnaReed; 02-15-2008 at 09:15 PM..
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Old 02-15-2008, 09:14 PM
 
706 posts, read 2,450,238 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kudiratt View Post
bought the house like that only a few months ago, it was inspected before the sale, but i wonder how come they didnt notice any violations
They would only have violations if they were found out.

When you go looking for a home, especially in NYC, you'll see very many finished basements - the majority may have full baths although they're illegal, and many will have kitchens and full apartments.

And some will have been used as rentals for extra income. While, on the other hand, some will just be fixed up as extra space for the comfort of the homeowner's family.

I know smart homeowers who care about their property and their neighborhood and rent to A hard working, responsible, very quiet, single person who's rarely at home.

I also know OF homeowners who just went ahead and sold their homes when they got in deep trouble for their carelessness in renting illegal basements.

Folks, for the most part, can do whatever they like with their homes for THEMSELVES, but once they involve other folks it can be a major legal problem.

Hell, I can get $1,000 for my basement. Besides the fact that I don't want strangers in my home, I'm not looking for the trouble that can come with it.
Also, I would not appreciate my neighbors overcrowding the neighborhood with careless illegal basement rentals, nor did I move to my neighborhood to live with basement rental income folks...sounds snobby, but this was a major investment for me and I endeavored to live with folks at similar income levels and lifestyle ambitions.

Also,

the rooming house situation can seriously effect property value - overcrowding boarders who tend to be transients, whoever from who knows where. Also, overcrowding tenants and overloading electricity is a major fire hazard.
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Old 02-16-2008, 01:21 PM
 
Location: Confines of the 101 Precinct
10,142 posts, read 18,017,918 times
Reputation: 3642
Quote:
Originally Posted by DonnaReed View Post
I'm curious about where you live, but I know in NYC, true dat (post above).

If you fixed your basement up for yourself, that would be one thing, but having renters, disgruntled tenants OR unhappy neighbors is how illegal basements owners are usually busted.

As mentioned, you don't have to let the inspectors in. They may threaten you that they will return with a court order. They may or may not carry it out. It's a busy city.

I know of a couple of folks who were ordered to remove tub, shower, kitchen stove from basement...
have seen big fines as well as basements torn apart, destroyed to prevent further fines.
as they did not fulfill the requirements to make it legal.

For illegal setups, inspectors most often give a fine, then come back to see if you've made changes, if not, then a bigger fine and so on.

Full baths are illegal in NYC basements, although popular opinion is that the kitchen (i.e., stove) is a bigger problem as well as any illegal meters, etc.

To be honest, with an illegal basement and a rooming house situation, the possibility exists for big trouble.

If I were you, I would find out the laws based on where you live.

And DEFINITELY see a lawyer about the summons.
DonnaReed, just to correct you, you can have a kitchen and bathroom in a basement, because basements are habitable space. since they're more than 50% above grade, you can get adequate natural light and air. as long as the C of O says that the basement is an apartment, you can live in it. You can't have a kitchen or a basement in a cellar period, because cellars are not deemed habitable space.

to the OP, you might want to check out the Department of Buildings website Department of Buildings, type in your address and see what violation(s) you have. more than likely, you may have gotten an ECB quality of life violation, which you will have to go to ECB court to resolve...if you indeed get a ECB quality of life violation for the illegal basement, you can either restore the basement to what's on the C of O, or you could hire an architect and file with the Department of Buildings to make it legal. Either way you take, you're going to have to prove it to the judge. If you do the 1st option, take some pictures to show that you restored it to match the C of O. If you do the second option, take printouts from the Department of Buildings website to the judge to show it has been filed.
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Old 02-16-2008, 01:48 PM
 
706 posts, read 2,450,238 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SeventhFloor View Post
DonnaReed, just to correct you, you can have a kitchen and bathroom in a basement, because basements are habitable space. since they're more than 50% above grade, you can get adequate natural light and air. as long as the C of O says that the basement is an apartment, you can live in it. You can't have a kitchen or a basement in a cellar period, because cellars are not deemed habitable space.

to the OP, you might want to check out the Department of Buildings website Department of Buildings, type in your address and see what violation(s) you have. more than likely, you may have gotten an ECB quality of life violation, which you will have to go to ECB court to resolve...if you indeed get a ECB quality of life violation for the illegal basement, you can either restore the basement to what's on the C of O, or you could hire an architect and file with the Department of Buildings to make it legal. Either way you take, you're going to have to prove it to the judge. If you do the 1st option, take some pictures to show that you restored it to match the C of O. If you do the second option, take printouts from the Department of Buildings website to the judge to show it has been filed.
Not without permit.

There's actually an office right outside of the Department of Finance - architects/engineers which I visited about making a two-family a legal three-family and that's where I got the information.

The information that I got requires more than simply "natural light and air" for a legal apartment.
Legalizing a basement may be complicated and costly depending...

For instance, one of my basements fulfills requirements for a legal three-family, in terms of ceiling height, windows, exit (and other things are taken into consideration) except I have brick front and side with siding in the back and would need full brick all the way around the house.
That and the cost of the permit is more than I care to invest.


Some permits are more costly than others and some basements do not fulfill requirements for liveable or rentable space
and cannot, some not without complete overhauling.

Thus the Certificate of Occupancy.

I actually said what you did concerning restoration, that's how some folks end up having to change their basements, in some cases having to destroy very expensive work done.

Last edited by DonnaReed; 02-16-2008 at 01:58 PM..
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Old 02-16-2008, 02:18 PM
 
Location: Confines of the 101 Precinct
10,142 posts, read 18,017,918 times
Reputation: 3642
Quote:
Originally Posted by DonnaReed View Post
Not without permit.

There's actually an office right outside of the Department of Finance - architects/engineers which I visited about making a two-family a legal three-family and that's where I got the information.

The information that I got requires more than simply "natural light and air" for a legal apartment.
Legalizing a basement may be complicated and costly depending...

For instance, one of my basements fulfills requirements for a legal three-family, in terms of ceiling height, windows, exit (and other things are taken into consideration) except I have brick front and side with siding in the back and would need full brick all the way around the house.
That and the cost of the permit is more than I care to invest.


Some permits are more costly than others and some basements do not fulfill requirements for liveable or rentable space
and cannot, some not without complete overhauling.

Thus the Certificate of Occupancy.

I actually said what you did concerning restoration, that's how some folks end up having to change their basements, in some cases having to destroy very expensive work done.
i agree with you that it must be permitted....of course if you're doing work it has to be. i was just defining the difference between basement and cellar for the OP so i could get a visual.
it all comes down to the building code you live and die by it. at the end of the day, its what the OP decides to do.
I'm surprised your architect did not try to get a reconsideration from the DOB for the siding in the back. Only reason i can think of is that if your egress door is in the back, the fire rating had to be maintained all around (just my guess) but it doesnt hurt to try. If you would have been sucessful in getting the recon, you probably could have filed for a No Work permit since you said you met the legal requirements already and gotten your new C of O.
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Old 02-17-2008, 12:15 AM
 
706 posts, read 2,450,238 times
Reputation: 321
Quote:
Originally Posted by SeventhFloor View Post
i agree with you that it must be permitted....of course if you're doing work it has to be. i was just defining the difference between basement and cellar for the OP so i could get a visual.
it all comes down to the building code you live and die by it. at the end of the day, its what the OP decides to do.
I'm surprised your architect did not try to get a reconsideration from the DOB for the siding in the back. Only reason i can think of is that if your egress door is in the back, the fire rating had to be maintained all around (just my guess) but it doesnt hurt to try. If you would have been sucessful in getting the recon, you probably could have filed for a No Work permit since you said you met the legal requirements already and gotten your new C of O.
Oh no, I didn't get a new Certificate of Occupancy.

This was for a legal two-family.

The basement door is on the side towards the back.

Are permit requirements negotiable?
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Old 02-18-2008, 07:25 AM
 
7 posts, read 32,865 times
Reputation: 12
thank you, guys this information has been of real help, i'll got get a lawyer with regards o the summons.
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Old 03-31-2008, 02:30 PM
 
3 posts, read 18,238 times
Reputation: 17
i live in my friend's basement for 2 years, I never knew it was illegal. Somebody made a call to Department of buldings now I have to move. Is it possible that inspectors would not come back to check, as I never let them in?? can they get a warrant for my eviction ?? I always paid on time and this is really nice basement with good ventilation and light,...
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Old 04-02-2008, 07:34 AM
 
Location: Sector 001
147 posts, read 384,261 times
Reputation: 46
If you own a legal two family, make sure that only TWO families live in it. Anything more is illegal. How hard could it be??
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Old 05-20-2008, 02:52 PM
 
1 posts, read 9,818 times
Reputation: 15
Got an eviction notice from the landlord of the basement apt. what do i do?
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