Far too often, the question of whether a condo has been rented legally in New York only comes up at the end of the lease, or in a time of dispute. In these situations, the truth comes out that the landlord never really held a legal rental license, and tenants can stand to lose a great deal, such as their homes, security deposits, property, and more. The best course of action is to protect yourself from the start by only considering Queens condos with legal rentals.
What Makes a Condo Rental Legal?
The legality of renting out a condo, or part of a condo, has to do with obtaining the proper permits from the Buildings Department. The correct paperwork for Queens condos with legal rentals can only be obtained if the property is zoned for multiple housing units or apartments, the size of the property is sufficient under the current zoning rules, and the building’s structure is determined safe. After any required alterations are made to the property to prepare it for tenants, a new Certificate of Occupancy is requested from the Buildings Department. The Queens Borough President has taken up issue with the number of illegal rentals, of all property types, currently in the Queens housing market, and has included a special section on HOUSING: Illegal Conversions on the website.
10 Strategies to Find Condos with Legal Rentals
1. Ask the Landlord or Owners Directly-Landlords and owners tend to have all the power in a market where renters are desperate for a place to call home. Be sure to ask all the right questions before signing a lease.
2. Ask to See Paperwork-Landlords and owners of Queens condos with legal rentals will have all the appropriate paperwork on hand, if they do not, or if they skirt the issue of producing paperwork, that should raise a red flag.
3. Check with the NYC Buildings Department-The Buildings Department must issue all Certificates of Occupancy, so start here before signing a lease. Find them online at www.nyc.gov/buildings
4. Check Property Records-Make sure the property is not at risk of foreclosure, and that the correct owner of the building is represented, amongst other important details. A good place to start is with ACRIS, or the Automated City Register Information System of the New York City Department of Finance.
5. Is the Property Long-Lease Only?-In most cases, Queens condos with legal rentals will only rent for long-term leases, as in one year or more. Short-term and vacation rentals by the owner or landlord are generally illegal, and may indicate further illegality.
6. Meet the Neighbors-When living in a closed, condo environment -especially a private community- word of mouth spreads fast. If other neighbors are unhappy about the fact that an owner in their community is illegally renting out all or part of a condo unit, it’s likely they will be more than willing to share helpful information with prospective new tenants – before it’s too late.
7. Online Research-These days the internet is a great tool for finding Queens condos with legal rentals. Try a site like Apartment Ratings to find out more about large condo complexes.
8. Use Common Sense-If a condo unit appears to be divided illegally, it probably is.
9. Report Illegal Condo Rentals-Although it might sound harsh, it’s best to protect other renters by reporting any illegal condos you encounter. In New York City, simply dial 311 to file a complaint.
10. Read-Fighting Illegal Conversions A Comprehensive Guide for Communities by Helen M. Marshall, Queens Borough President.
Good luck on your search for Queens condos with legal rentals! Remember to ask lots of questions, and trust your instincts when it comes to dealing with dishonest landlords and condo owners.