Co-Housing Startups Fly in the Face of Old-School NYC Housing Law

Manhattan skyline

Popular firms like Bungalow and Common rent out units with several roommates even though NYC — legally — doesn’t allow more than three.

December 18, 2022
Amelia Pollard & Diego Lasarte - Bloomberg

A room in an eight-bedroom Bed-Stuy brownstone with “charming views.” A five-bedroom “modern Manhattan” home. In a housing market as hot as New York City’s, these units advertised on co-housing companies’ websites sound promising. According to the city’s housing regulations, however, neither is legal.

That hasn’t stopped companies from offering the rooms, as renters clamor for affordable living space. With the average studio apartment in Manhattan going for nearly $3,100 a month, newcomers to the city often find living with multiple roommates to be their best affordable-housing option. It’s a trend that startups have jumped on, and one some experts endorse as a way to quickly scale up affordable housing — even though municipal housing laws aren’t on board yet.

The reality is that in many cities, housing laws that limit the number of unrelated individuals in a dwelling are still in place. New York, for instance, doesn’t allow more than three unrelated people to live in the same unit. To be sure, New Yorkers often break that law, as expensive housing forces people to find roommates through friends or on sites like Craigslist. But multimillion-dollar companies breaking that law is new. 

Reprinted courtesy of Amelia Pollard, Bloomberg and Diego Lasarte, Bloomberg


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