Although we were celebrating the decline of rent prices in certain areas of New York City, there’s still a long way to go for the cost of living in general.

Demand for apartments that are under market has always been on the minds of the city’s population, where the average cost of a one-bedroom apartment ranges from $1,800—2,600 a month.

But maybe, the solution to lower rent can be just renting lower apartments? Basement apartments may be legal to rent soon.

According to Curbed NY, the Citizens Housing and Planning Council, or the CHPC, have conducted a study that explores the potential of renovating basements and cellars into living units.

But current laws make such makeovers tedious and expensive to convert basements into legal apartments. Potential and current New York residents sometimes rely on winning a lottery of lower housing units, which bring in too many applicants for that dream to be possible.

However, the Council plans to launch a pilot program for the city, working out a way to make the process easier and providing incentives for homeowners who participate.

CHPC’s ideas are to first identify the most suitable geographic areas for the basement apartments. Another move would be to offer homeowners relief from parts of building regulations that are the most difficult to comply with when creating a basement apartment.


CHPC also plans to cultivate more affordable fire suppression and prevention technologies and to commission and fund community-based organizations to support homeowners.

They also are thinking of creating jobs, training and accrediting architects and contractors who can appropriately undertake basement conversions, and lastly, developing financial incentives for homeowners to protect against tax increases, and encourage them to keep rents low.

There are between 10,000 and 38,000 basements that could potentially be converted into apartments under the program, the CHPC claims. They hope that with these plans and incentives the housing crisis can finally reach affordable rates without New Yorkers competing over new housing complexes.

However, there are some challenges. Locating an optimal district or neighborhood for the pilot program won’t be easy. Additional parking is required by law to be added when a single-family home adds an apartment, even though a majority of renters don’t drive, or have a car.


There are parts of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx where that rule doesn’t apply, but they’re also missing the buildings where such a pilot program could apply. The districts, such as the ones in Queens, have the buildings, but also have the parking rule.

So it’s a pickle. That, along with the communities venting their displeasure of adding apartments to their homes adds yet another difficulty the CHPC will have to face.

But we’re hoping that if the CHPC can work around the rules or make them change, homeowners can have a means of income property and future renters can have a larger market to pick from.

[via Curbed NY] [Feature Image Courtesy]