When is a bedroom not a bedroom?

Imagine solid walls on the left and right of the floorplan--they do exist.


How often have you walked into an apartment in New York City that is being marketed with more bedrooms than truly exist?

The fact is that the definition of a bedroom is not open to question, though you may well be excused for thinking otherwise.

For example, when I sold the Upper West Side co-op above to a buyer of mine, the listing claimed three bedrooms.  Not only was the bedroom count wrong at the top of the listing, but the broker’s description began with this statement:

Stunning, exquisitely renovated 3 bed, 2.5 bath duplex with Home Office and Dining Room. . .

At the same the time, the floorplan (probably copied from the offering plan) is obviously honest in labeling that so-called third bedroom for what it really is: a windowless “interior room” adjacent to a “home office” that is best used as a walk-in closet.

According to the New York City Administrative Code, a bedroom must meet the following criteria:

  • It is a “living room used for sleeping purposes;”
  • Generally, the dimensions must be a minimum of eight feet in length, width and height each;
  • “All bedrooms must have at least one window that opens to a street, yard or courtyard or to a balcony that opens on a street, yard or court;”
  • The total area of the windows in the room must be at least one-tenth the floor area of the room and at least 12 square feet in area;
  • A kitchen, foyer, bathroom, dining room, dinette, hall, corridor or passageway may not be counted as bedroom, nor may it be considered a bedroom if an occupant must pass through it to reach other parts of the apartment.

The Administrative Code also provides equally rigid definitions of the other rooms in a property, whether foyer or kitchen, and I expect to blog about them at some point as well as the enduring issue of misstated square footage.

Brokers and agents who falsely or inaccurately market a dwelling are in violation of the Code of Ethics of the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) and may be subject to disciplinary procedures.  In addition, dishonest marketing practices violate the state’s Consumer Protect Law.  Violators may be fined or have their license revoked.

Any advertisement that describes a dwelling differently from what appears on the Certificate of Occupancy is an illegal marketing practice.

Unfortunately, as far as I know, few are the brokers and agents who face legal or disciplinary actions for having violated the Code of Ethics or Consumer Protection Law.

But you, dear consumer, may well be forgiven for turning in the opposite direction when you encounter brokers who illegally market their listings.  If they’ll lie about a bedroom, why would you trust them?  I know I don’t.

Subscribe by Email

Malcolm Carter
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022

M: 347-886-0248
F: 347-438-3201

Web site

2 thoughts on “When is a bedroom not a bedroom?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s