Living in NYC—TV shows often show young people moving to the city, and renting a large apartment where everyone has their own bedroom, all while having plenty of money left over for the newest designer fashions, plus dinner and drinks out every night of the week. The reality is those college favorites of Ramen noodles and mac & cheese become a budget stretcher, and H&M becomes your go-to for the latest looks. That large apartment? Not so large… and you draw straws to decide who gets the smaller bedroom carved out of what was the living room.
The practice of having temporary walls (also known as pressurized walls) installed to “create” an extra bedroom has come under great scrutiny by the Department of Buildings. Usually these apartments are advertised as “Flex 2” or “Convertible 2” units (indicating a one bedroom has been converted to a two bedroom). We at Urban Edge have been watching this story develop, as it affects a large number of tenants who use our website, as well as many of the landlords we get our listings from.
As a consequence, in many cases it is now more difficult to have a temporary wall installed. In other cases, having a wall installed will not be possible. A variety of factors, such as room size, exit routes, ventilation, sprinkler systems, etc. all come into play when determining if a wall is permissible in any given unit. This doesn’t just affect empty apartments, as several landlords are removing walls that are not up to code in occupied apartments as well.
Fewer options, and less privacy are the result. Our advice—be flexible, talk to the owners and property managers about your options, and allow yourself a little more time to find a place. The New York Times recently published a good article on the subject, and I recommend you check it out for more information.