Basement Bonus Unit - Jersey City

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I bought a 2-family home in Jersey City. The basement used to be its own apartment (1 BR & 1 BA) connected to the first floor but it's own space (or a 'Bonus Unit'). The heating and electrical are all working. There are rough-ins for a bathroom and kitchen. I believe everything was ripped out because of a flood at one point. My plan was to turn this into an AirBnB rental. This way I would not have to get a variance for a 3-family home, I could keep the main unit for myself and don't have to rent illegally. 

I'm running into issues because I still need to meet code but the ceiling height is too short. Code calls for minimum 7'-6" ceiling but I only have 7'-1". Code also calls for no obstructions less than 6'-6" however I have a support beam that is at 6'-4".

Does anyone have any experience with basement units in Jersey City that have dealt with these issues? Should I apply for a ceiling height variance? Is that even possible to get? Any insights would be appreciated.



The transfer from 2 to 3 units is not feasible anyway because of the amount you would need to spend on egress requirements so that wouldn't be an option. That's the conversion that never works because it's not worth the costs because of the higher requirements in NJ and the more inspections every three years. You won't get a variance for the ceiling height. The only way to make it legal is to dig down. Putting a stove in an unpermitted boarder unit is illegal. If you wanted to Airbnb on the DL, you would not want to put in a full kitchen.