Micro-apartments are nothing new. However, these apartments take them to a whole new level. In Manhattan, two landlords decided to take a new approach to double the number of units they could rent—which was not only unusual but also illegal.
The landlords cut their condos in half horizontally going from nine standard apartments to eighteen tiny apartments. The condos that were converted are located, according to the NYC Department of Buildings, on the Lower East Side.
In an email sent to NPR, a spokesperson for the Department of Buildings, Abigail Kunitz, stated that:
“The ceiling heights were 4.5 feet to 6 feet tall on each level, depending on where you were standing.”
Upon visiting the building earlier this month, an inspector found that he had to kneel in what appeared to be a hallway that was improvised. He not only found unreasonably low ceilings but doors that measured half-sized as well. The inspector made a note in his report that there was unpermitted electrical as well as plumbing work.
The building, known as the Beracah, gets its name from the biblical Hebrew—coming from barak—which means “either to kneel or to bless.”
Officials were alerted to the illegal apartments just last week when they received an anonymous complaint via 311. The units in question occupy the buildings corner two top floors. The Gothamist website shows that the condo is being offered as a 634 square-foot unit.
By simple math, if the unit were indeed divided into nine other units, they would measure out roughly to 70 square feet each. Although no official listing of rental rates could be found, one tenant did state they had themselves been paying $600 a month.
Once officials had investigated the situation, they delivered vacating notices to all the residents of Apartment 601, as well as hitting the owner with a potential fine of $144,750.