When is a kitchen not really a kitchen?

No one would mistake Julia Child’s kitchen for a typical one in the Big Apple.

Out-of-towners invariably know two things about New York City apartments: Prices are high and kitchens are small.

But how many consumers and brokers alike know what a kitchen is?  Yes, we have galley kitchens, country kitchens, eat-in kitchens and Pullman kitchens.

In fact, any space used for cooking either is a kitchen or a kitchenette, according to the city’s Administrative Code.

While a kitchen must contain 80 square feet, a kitchenette is defined as having fewer than that amount. Moreover, whatever you call it, the space must have adequate lighting.

The same lighting requirements for a living room apply to a kitchen or kitchenette, unless the kitchenette does not have a window: The total window area must be at least one-tenth of the floor area, and all required windows must be at least 12 square feet.

To comply with ventilation requirements, windows in kitchenettes must have a total area of at least three square feet and also equal at least 10 percent of the floor area. If a kitchenette doesn’t have a window, it is acceptable for there to be mechanical ventilation or, if the room is on the top floor, a skylight.

When was the last time you saw the word “kitchenette” in the description of a co-op or condo? And ask any broker whether his or her listing meets the definition of a “kitchen.” You’ll no doubt get a definite affirmative response. Then ask what the definition is to let your fun begin. I know I didn’t know until I just finished reading a summary of the Administrative Code.

These are not, by the way, academic questions.

Dishonest marketing practices (as in falsely advertising a kitchenette as a kitchen) violate the Code of Ethics of the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) as well as the New York State Consumer Protection Law.

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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

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