April 2, 2020

What buyers, sellers and brokers don’t know about rooms could fill a book. . . and it does!

Granted you are more likely to worry about the amount of square footage in a co-op, condo or townhouse than the precise number of rooms when judging the price. But room count is neither irrelevant nor debatable in the eyes of the New York City Administrative Code.

Nor is it acceptable–legal or ethical–for a broker to misstate the number of rooms–either because of ignorance of the definition of a room or because of a desire to inflate a property’s characteristics.

Generally, a room must have minimum dimensions of 8 feet x 8 feet x 8 feet and 80 square feet of floor area, according to the Code. A room that opens into an adjoining room may have at least 70 square feet of floor area and a horizontal dimension of no fewer than seven feet.

Every room must have at least one window that opens onto a street, yard or court on the same lot. In addition:

* The total area of the windows in the room must be at least one-tenth the floor area of the room;

* Every part of every room in non-fireproof buildings must be within 30 feet of either a court or a window opening to a street or yard. Dwellings with three rooms or fewer in fireproof buildings must comply with this requirement as well.

  • Closets, halls, stairs, laundry “rooms,” bathrooms, foyers and dining spaces may not be classified as rooms.

The Administrative Code says that an entry space is a foyer when the floor area does not exceed either 10 percent of the total floor space of the dwelling unit or 20 percent of the floor area if every living room is larger than 96 square feet.

However, if the entry space has a floor area of at least 80 square feet, it may be defined as a living room.

As for a dining space, it is limited to an area used for eating that is off a living room, foyer or kitchen. It is not a room, and must meet the following requirements:

* No more than 55 square feet of floor space;

* Same lighting requirements as for living rooms, and windows must have an area at least one-eighth the floor space of the dining space.

  • It is illegal to market a property incorrectly, meaning any advertisement that describes the dwelling differently from what appears on the Certificate of Occupancy.

* Dishonest marketing practices violate the Code of Ethics and Professional Practices of the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) and may subject a member to disciplinary procedures.

  • Moreover, dishonest marketing practices violate the New York State Consumer Protection Law. Brokers and agents who engage in such practices may be fined or have their license revoked.

–by Malcolm Carter


  1. Very informative post. Amazing how detailed the law is when it comes to what is and what is not a “room” in the eyes of New York City lawmakers. More reasons to seek out a reputable and knowledgable real estate professional.

    • Malcolm Carter says

      What most of us don’t know about the definitions of kitchens, kitchenettes and bedrooms is even more surprising.