Basements could be big money-makers for NYC landlords

The measure is part of a pilot program in East New York
November 08, 2018 08:30AM

Apartments in East New York and Mayor Bill de Blasio (Credit: Getty Images)

A City Council bill may legalize some basement apartments in East New York.

The move is an attempt to create more affordable housing in existing buildings, Crain’s New York reported. A hearing on the legislation, which has been in the works since the area was rezoned, is set for Tuesday.

Although basement apartments are common in the city, most don’t meet fire and building codes, the report said. The new measure, which is part of a pilot program, would make changes to the codes. The changes may entail things like installing sprinkler systems.

“An estimated 100,000 families live in basements, and we don’t have a public policy for addressing it,” Councilmember Brad Lander, the legislation’s lead sponsor, told Crain’s. “It’s like a ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ problem.”

The city also plans to give subsidies, like tax breaks, to help landlords with the costs. To be eligible, a unit must have more than half its floor-to-ceiling height above ground.

The de Blasio administration pledged $5.7 million toward the program, with the goal of bringing 5,000 apartments up to code. That would be $1,140 per dwelling. [Crain’s] — Meenal Vamburkar