When Tiny Becomes Taboo: NYC Fining Agents For Showing Illegal Apartments

As reported in Realtor.com’s RealtorMag  and the New York Times, NYC apartment leasing agents and brokers are being fined for showing apartments and subleases that meet the definition of illegal dwelling.  In New York City, agents and companies are now culpable when dwellings that fall out of code are shown to prospective tenants; as of April 29th, ten agents in NYC were fined thousands of dollars for doing so.

While there is plenty of argument about what constitutes code compliance and many REALTOR voices decrying what they see as added unfair responsibility to determine that compliance, the bulk of the fines given were for dwellings that did not have two means of egress.

When a leasing agent professional says she can’t know if the plumbing or electrical in a building is up to code, that makes a lot of sense. Buildings potentially hide a great number of flaws that can escape the agent’s notice just like they escape the landlord’s.

But when the bulk of the issued fines, as reported, are for showing properties that fail to have two means of egress — e.g. no back door — the complaints about unfairness become a little harder to swallow.  How exactly does that escape notice during a showing?

The Worst Room

How small can it get in an NYC apartment?  That happens to be the very subject of a fascinating new real estate blog The Worst Room featuring photos of eye-popping dwellings complete with sublet prices.  Strap yourself in:

Union Square, Manhattan. $1000.00
“I am looking for someone to move into a large closet space in one of the three bedrooms of my apartment. The bedroom has two closets but there is no need for it so we are looking to sublet it as a living space to a 4th roommate. The closet is about 5 feet wide and 7 feet long. It has no windows and think it would be ideal for a twin size bed and small night stand.”
“Amazing Location”
Upper East Side, Manhattan. $1600.00 (Twin bed with Fax Machine)

This one’s not as crazy as it seems.  If the heat in the place isn’t what it could be, just have someone send you some faxes until you’re blanketed in paper.

Check out the entire The Worst Room site here.  If you can stand the claustrophobia, I mean.

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