Buried in the city’s housing maintenance code is a little-known law that has the potential to affect tens of thousands of New Yorkers: it’s illegal here for more than three unrelated people to live together in an apartment or house. But if a quick perusal of Craigslist roommate postings is any indication, the law, originally intended to encourage the conversion of boarding house brownstones back into family homes, is unlikely to have an affect at all. Just three citations related to the roommates law have been issued since July, according to the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, and enforcement in a city where sky-high rents force residents to live in rooms described as “unique dungeons” for $525 a month seems not only difficult but also insensitive. The Census Bureau’s 2008 American Community Survey found that close to 15,000 city homes had three or more unrelated roommates, a number that experts say is probably under-reported. Any amendment to the current roommates law would need to come by the City Council. [NYT]
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