Can a Landlord live in the Basement/Cellar of a rental property?

4 Replies

My husband and I have a 3 family property in Bronx, NY and it also has a cellar. The correct definition we were told is a cellar because more than 50% of it is below street level; however, it has 8 feet high ceilings, kitchen, three quarter bathroom and more than enough space to create a bedroom. We have asked some Realtors who say no we can't live in the cellar because it is below street level and some say yes because we are not charging for it. Does anyone know what the rules are?

The main issue is actually the plumbing. Typically 3/4s baths are not allowed in cellars. Therefore the plumbing is probably illegal - unless it was previously zoned as a 3 family. If you get reported for living there and an inspector is sent over, you will need to get a licensed plumber to remove the code violations. 

You definitely can't rent out the cellar to a third party. But those realtors are correct in that because you are not charging for it, you technically aren't renting out illegal space and calling it a bedroom. I've definitely heard this argument before but haven't talked to a lawyer about this. 

I'd recommend putting in a call to the local building department. Just be very vague about your name and the location of the property.