September 26, 2018

When is a bedroom not a bedroom?

Imagine solid walls on the left and right of the floorplan--they do exist.

How often have you walked into an apartment in New York City that is being marketed with more bedrooms than truly exist?

The fact is that the definition of a bedroom is not open to question, though you may well be excused for thinking otherwise.

For example, when I sold the Upper West Side co-op above to a buyer of mine, the listing claimed three bedrooms. Not only was the bedroom count wrong at the top of the listing, but the broker’s description began with this statement:

Stunning, exquisitely renovated 3 bed, 2.5 bath duplex with Home Office and Dining Room. . .

At the same the time, the floorplan (probably copied from the offering plan) is obviously honest in labeling that so-called third bedroom for what it really is: a windowless “interior room” adjacent to a “home office” that is best used as a walk-in closet.

According to the New York City Administrative Code, a bedroom must meet the following criteria:

  • It is a “living room used for sleeping purposes;”
  • Generally, the dimensions must be a minimum of eight feet in length, width and height each;
  • “All bedrooms must have at least one window that opens to a street, yard or court or to a balcony that opens on a street, yard or court;”
  • The total area of the windows in the room must be at least one-tenth the floor area of the room and at least 12 square feet in area;
  • A kitchen, foyer, bathroom, dining room, dinette, hall, corridor or passageway may not be counted as bedroom, nor may it be considered a bedroom if an occupant must pass through it to reach other parts of the apartment.

The Administrative Code also provides equally rigid definitions of the other rooms in a property, whether foyer or kitchen, and I expect to blog about them at some point as well as the enduring issue of misstated square footage.

Brokers and agents who falsely or inaccurately market a dwelling are in violation of the Code of Ethics of the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) and may be subject to disciplinary procedures. In addition, dishonest marketing practices violate the state’s Consumer Protect Law. Violators may be fined or have their license revoked.

Any advertisement that describes a dwelling differently from what appears on the Certificate of Occupancy is an illegal marketing practice.

Unfortunately, as far as I know, few are the brokers and agents who face legal or disciplinary actions for having violated the Code of Ethics or Consumer Protection Law.

But you, dear consumer, may well be forgiven for turning in the opposite direction when you encounter brokers who illegally market their listings. If they’ll lie about a bedroom, why would you trust them? I know I don’t.

–Malcolm Carter

Comments

  1. I’m glad somebody said it. I have seen my share of places trying to pawn off a bedroom as a room with no windows or closets. It’s insulting. I have even seen some where they have put in a wardrobe from Ikea in the corner and said “that’s the closet”. Just market the listing for what it is and if people want it they will take it. All this makes it look like is that they want far too much for too little and we as consumers should vote with our feet.

  2. I’m glad somebody said it. I have seen my share of places trying to pawn off a bedroom as a room with no windows or closets. It’s insulting. I have even seen some where they have put in a wardrobe from Ikea in the corner and said “that’s the closet”. Just market the listing for what it is and if people want it they will take it. All this makes it look like is that they want far too much for too little and we as consumers should vote with our feet.

    • Malcolm Carter says:

      Almost everyone you ask will say that a closet is mandatory, but, surprisingly, it’s not.

      • That’s so odd. How could you possibly call it a bedroom without a closet? I
        would think the windows and closets is what separates a bedroom from an
        actual closet…..

  3. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion ( “stunning exquisitely renovated”) but they are not entitled to their own facts (3BR). We get the same thing in Westchester with square footage, where a 4200 square foot colonial is really a 2800 home with a basement that was finished in 1975.

  4. Ryan Hinricher says:

    This is more of a NY problem than anywhere else. When I moved here I leased a “2 bed”. I told them to immediately tear down the wall and give me an actual living room.

  5. Ryan Hinricher says:

    This is more of a NY problem than anywhere else. When I moved here I leased a “2 bed”. I told them to immediately tear down the wall and give me an actual living room.