10:21 AM 10/03/2011
I just looked at a small three story townhouse that’s listed on DOB website as B3 TWO FAMILY CONVERTED FROM ONE FAMILY.
The garden/parlor floors have a living room, two bedrooms, a kitchen and a bathroom with own electrical and gas meter. The third floor has a living room, a bedroom, a kitchen and a bathroom, and has its own electrical meter and own gas line (though the gas meter itself has been removed). However, it’s clearly still like a one family in that there’s no official dividing wall that would keep me from going into the tenant’s apartment and vice versa. The staircase on the parlor floor goes almost as far back as the bedroom door, so there’s not an easy way to create a wall partitioning off the two apartments in the parlor floor hallway (see photo). Nor is there much space on the third floor landing to create a wall / locking door.
I am not that concerned with having to take less money from a renter because our apartments are not officially divided, or having the wall solution be less than perfect / permanent. What I’m concerned about is the legality of renting without a wall or with a temporary wall / dividing object.
1) If the building is listed as a legal B3 two family, is it ok to rent top floor as is (no wall)?
2) If I create a wall/ door with a lock, is that changing egress and thus it becomes illegal?
3) If I put up some sort of privacy screen or put a piece of furniture in the parlor floor hallway to somewhat divide the space, is that illegal due to fire hazard?
Also, I noted above that the gas meter for the top floor rental had been removed. The owner states that it was removed because her son was living in the rental and National Grid called to say if it wasn’t beign used they were going to remove the meter. Is that typical? How difficult / costly would it be to get them to replace the meter?
As far as the DOB is concerned, there needs to be a fire rated separation between each dwelling unit. If the top floor apartment has entry doors from the hall that can be closed and locked, then it's generally ok to rent that way. However, the hall and any doors leading to each dwelling unit need to be fire rated, doors to the main hall need to be lockable, and the duplex must be connected by an insternal stair other than the main hall if that hall is required for access to the upper apartment.
As for your questions on building a wall with a door and a lock, or putting some kind of screen in the hallway, I really couldn't say without much more info as to where and how they would be built/placed.
10:38 AM 10/03/2011 | 0 Votes
In the case of this house, there is no separation between each unit. So why would the house be classified as a legal B3 two family ?
11:07 AM 10/03/2011 | 0 Votes
B3 two family is a tax code. It has little or no implication as to what the DOB thinks it is. Many of these exist like this. When you do some work that gets filed, it becomes important to bring it up to code.
What you really need to check is the C of O. You may not even have one, and that's ok. If you're not doing major renovation, then you can probably go ahead using it the way it has been.
11:34 AM 10/03/2011 | -1 Votes
About a foot in from where you are standing, you can build a partition wall w/entry door...
I didn't see parlor doors in photo, but if you have them you'll be ok as far as egrees. Two means of eqress are required.
12:45 PM 10/03/2011 | 0 Votes
There are tons of these all over Brooklyn, and they are perfectly legal two families. They wouldn't be to code now, but they are grandfathered in. I am assuming yours was built this way, and not a conversion from an original one family. Many two families were built with two kitchens and no front door entrance to the top-floor apartment.
As for the gas meter, ours was missing also. It didn't mean anything. I called National Grid before signing the contract to make sure it hadn't been pulled because of a leak or other problem. It was fine. (By the way, this probably won't come up, but if you're doing an electrical upgrade, please be aware that these two families mix up the gas lines for stove and lighting. If you cut your gas nipples, you'll cut your stove gas line too. So don't do it. Our electricians did it thinking the gas was inactive because National Grid told us it was on when it was off.)
4:15 PM 10/03/2011 | 0 Votes