Single-room occupancy housing, or more commonly called SROs, exist throughout New York City. When purchasing such a dwelling without the proper paperwork, you will not be able to obtain a permit to do renovations, a buyer cannot evict the residents who are rent-regulated tenants, and the owner may be required to maintain the upkeep for the tenants in possession which may include maid service and changing the tenants’ linens. Most of these dwellings contain single rooms without a bathroom, kitchen or shower which resides on another side of the floor in a shared capacity. SRO buildings are a relic of a past city hanging onto to a way of living that has long been abandoned. This article attempts to explain the laws of single-room occupancy buildings standing in the shoes of the purchaser or owner attempting to turn these dwellings into one-family or multi-family housing without restrictions.
Governing SRO Laws
The laws governing SROs are divided among the Administrative Code, Multiple Dwelling Law (MDL), and the Rent Stabilization Code (RSC). As a result, SROs exist in apartment hotels, lodging houses, rooming houses with fewer than 30 units, and residential buildings. While certain laws seek to hold steady the number of SROs, the law has also placed barriers upon their construction and conversion. The NYC Administrative Code (Admin. Code) §27-2077(a) states, “no rooming unit which was not classified…prior to May fifteenth, nineteen hundred fifty-six, shall be created in any dwelling, whether such conversion is effected with or without physical alterations.”1
Qualifying as an SRO Tenant
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