Illegal Conversion

If you answer ‘YES’ to any of the following questions, your current apartment/room could be an illegal conversion:

  • Is your bedroom in the cellar? (a cellar has at least half its height underground)
  • Do you live in the attic?
  • Do you get electricity with an extension cord?
  • Do you lock your room with a padlock?

An illegal conversion is an alteration or modification of an existing building to create additional apartment units without first obtaining the proper permits or approval from DOB. Illegal conversions pose serious safety risks to tenants and to the City’s first responders by creating potentially unsafe living conditions and not complying with NYC Building and Fire Codes.

Know what to look for when you are apartment hunting. Use these tips to avoid renting an illegal conversion.

Examples of an illegal conversion include:

  • Creating a rooming house (single room occupancy) or dividing an apartment into single room occupancies.
  • Adding an apartment in the basement, attic or garage without obtaining approval or permits from DOB.
  • Using a property zoned for manufacturing or industrial use for residential occupancy.
  • Creating a housing unit in a building designated for manufacturing or industrial use.

If you suspect an illegal conversion call 311 to have a DOB Inspector routed to the address to inspect the property. You can also use the Buildings Information System (BIS) to check the legal use of the building and view the Certificate of Occupancy for the building. Report an illegal conversion or alteration of an:

Protecting You

Our Quality of Life Unit conducts field inspections in response to illegal conversion complaints. The unit inspects these locations for potentially hazardous conditions and will issue a vacate order for non-compliance of safety Codes and if there is imminent danger. If our inspectors can’t get access to the property, an Access Warrant is obtained, and the NYPD is contacted to assist the Quality of Life Inspector in issuing the warrant.

Contact the Quality of Life Unit at (718) 286-3445 or