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Housing Maintenance Code

CHAPTER 2
HOUSING MAINTENANCE CODE

[table of contents]

SUBCHAPTER 1
GENERAL PROVISIONS

ARTICLE 1
General Provisions

Section
27-2001 Short Title
27-2002 Legislative Declaration
27-2003 Applicability
27-2004 Definitions


Sec. 27-2001 Short Title.

This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the "housing maintenance code."

Sec. 27-2002 Legislative declaration.

It is hereby found that the enforcement of minimum standards of health and safety, fire protection, light and ventilation, cleanliness, repair and maintenance, and occupancy in dwellings is necessary to protect the people of the city against the consequences of urban blight. The sound enforcement of minimum housing standards is essential:

  1. to preserve decent housing;
  2. to prevent adequate or salvageable housing from deteriorating to the point where it can no longer be reclaimed; and
  3. to bring about the basic decencies and minimal standards of healthful living in already deteriorated dwellings, which, although no longer salvageable, must serve as habitations until they can be replaced.

In order to accomplish these purposes, and following a review of existing housing standards in the light of present needs, and a reexamination of methods of administration, including legal sanctions and remedies, to assure the effectiveness of enforcement, it is hereby found that the enactment of a comprehensive code of standards for decent housing maintenance, imposing duties and responsibilities for the preservation of the dwellings in the city upon owners and tenants, as well as on the municipality itself, enforceable by a broad range of legal, equitable and administrative powers, is appropriate for the protection of the health, safety and welfare of the people of the city.

Sec. 27-2003 Applicability

The provisions of this chapter, except as otherwise provided, apply to all dwellings.

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Sec. 27-2004 Definitions.

a. The following terms, as used in this chapter, shall have the following meanings:

  1. The term department shall mean the department, bureau, division or other agency charged with the enforcement of this title.

  2. Wherever the word or words occupied, is occupied, used, or is used appear, such word or words shall be construed as if followed by the words "or is intended, arranged or designed to be used or occupied".

  3. A dwelling is any building or structure or portion thereof which is occupied in whole or in part as the home, residence or sleeping place of one or more human beings.

  4. A family is (i) a single person, or (ii) two or more persons related by blood or marriage or who are parties to a domestic partnership, occupying a dwelling unit and maintaining a common household with not more than two boarders, roomers or lodgers; (iii) not more than three unrelated persons occupying a dwelling unit and maintaining a common household. A boarder, roomer or lodger is a person who pays a consideration for living within the household and does not occupy such space as an incident of employment. Foster children lawfully living with the family in accordance with the provisions of the social services law are considered to be members of the family. A common household is deemed to exist if every member of the family has access to all parts of the dwelling unit.

  5. "Person," for the purposes of article four of subchapter three of this chapter, means any adult or child over the age of four years. The term "person" as used in subchapters four and five of this code shall include the owner, mortgagee or vendee in possession, assignee of rents, receiver, executor, trustee, lessee, agent or any other person, firm or corporation directly or indirectly in control of a dwelling or part thereof. Whenever a multiple dwelling shall have been declared a public nuisance to any extent pursuant to section 27-2114 of article one of subchapter five of this chapter and such declaration shall have been filed as therein provided, the term "person" shall be deemed to include, in addition to those mentioned hereinabove, all the officers, directors and persons having an interest in more than ten percent of the issued and outstanding stock of the owner as herein defined, as holder or beneficial owner thereof, if such person be a corporation other than a banking organization as defined in section two of the banking law, a national banking association, a federal savings and loan association, the mortgage facilities corporation, savings banks life insurance fund, the savings banks retirement system, an authorized insurer as defined in section one hundred seven of the insurance law, or a trust company or other corporation organized under the laws of this state all the capital stock of which is owned by at least twenty savings banks or by at least twenty savings and loan associations or a subsidiary corporation all of the capital stock of which is owned by such trust company or other corporation.

  6. A private dwelling is any building or structure designed and occupied for residential purposes by not more than two families. Private dwellings shall also be deemed to include a series of one-family or two-family dwelling units each of which faces or is accessible to a legal street or public thoroughfare, if each such dwelling unit is equipped as a separate dwelling unit with all essential services, and if each such unit is arranged so that it may be approved as a legal one-family or two family dwelling.

  7. A multiple dwelling is a dwelling which is either rented, leased, let or hired out, to be occupied, or is occupied, as the residence or home of three or more families living independently of each other. A multiple dwelling shall also include residential quarters for members or personnel of any hospital staff which are not located in any building used primarily for hospital use, but any building which was erected, altered or converted prior to July first, nineteen hundred fifty-five, to be occupied by such members or personnel or is so occupied on such date shall not be subject to the requirements of this code only so long as it continues to be so occupied if there are local laws applicable to such building and such building is in compliance with such local laws. A multiple dwelling does not include (i) a hospital, convent, monastery, asylum or public institution; or (ii) a fireproof building used wholly for commercial purposes except for not more than one janitor's apartment and not more than one penthouse occupied by not more than two families. For the purposes of this chapter, multiple dwellings are divided into two classes: "class A" and " class B."

  8. (a) A class A multiple dwelling is a multiple dwelling which is occupied, as a rule, for permanent residence purposes. This class shall include tenements, flat houses, maisonette apartments, apartment houses, apartment hotels, bachelor apartments, studio apartments, duplex apartments, kitchenette apartments, garden-type maisonette dwelling projects, and all other multiple dwellings except class B multiple dwellings. (b) A garden-type maisonette dwelling project is a series of attached, detached or semi-detached dwelling units which are provided as a group collectively with all essential services such as, but not limited to, water supply and house sewers, and which units are located on a site or plot not less than twenty thousand square feet in area under common ownership and erected under plans filed with the department on or after April eighteenth, nineteen hundred fifty-four, and which units together and in their aggregate are arranged or designed to provide three or more apartments.

  9. A class B multiple dwelling is a multiple dwelling which is occupied, as a rule, transiently, as the more or less temporary abode of individuals or families who are lodged with or without meals. This class includes hotels, lodging houses, rooming houses, boarding houses, boarding schools, furnished room houses, lodgings, club houses, and college and school dormitories.

  10. A converted dwelling is a dwelling (i) erected before April eighteenth, nineteen hundred twenty-nine, to be occupied by one or two families living independently of each other and subsequently occupied as a multiple dwelling or (ii) a dwelling three stories or less in height erected after April eighteenth, nineteen hundred twenty-nine, to be occupied by one or two families living independently of each other and subsequently occupied by not more than three families in all, with a maximum occupancy of two families on each floor in a two story building and one family on each floor in a three story building. A converted dwelling occupied as a class A multiple dwelling is a class A converted dwelling; every other converted dwelling is a class B converted dwelling.

  11. A tenement is any building or structure or any portion thereof, erected before April eighteenth, nineteen hundred twenty-nine, which is occupied, wholly or in part, as the residence of three families or more living independently of each other and doing their cooking upon the premises and includes apartment houses, flat houses and all other houses so erected and occupied, except that a tenement shall not be deemed to include any converted dwelling. An old law tenement is a tenement existing before April twelfth, nineteen hundred one, and recorded as such in the tenement house department before April eighteenth, nineteen hundred twenty-nine, except that it shall not be deemed to include any converted dwelling.

  12. A hotel is an inn having thirty or more sleeping rooms.

  13. Dwelling unit shall mean any residential accommodation in a multiple dwelling or private dwelling.

  14. Apartment shall mean one or more living rooms, arranged to be occupied as a unit separate from all other rooms within a dwelling, with lawful sanitary facilities and a lawful kitchen or kitchenette for the exclusive use of the family residing in such unit.

  15. Rooming unit shall mean one or more living rooms arranged to be occupied as a unit separate from all other living rooms, and which does not have both lawful sanitary facilities and lawful cooking facilities for the exclusive use of the family residing in such unit. It may be located either within an apartment or within any class A or class B multiple dwelling. A rooming unit shall not include a living room in a class B hotel or any other dwelling complying with section sixty-seven of the Multiple Dwelling Law and so classified and recorded in the department.

  16. Rooming house shall mean a class B converted dwelling with more than half of the rooms in rooming units.

  17. Single room occupancy is the occupancy by one or two persons of a single room, or of two or more rooms which are joined together, separated from all other rooms within an apartment in a multiple dwelling, so that the occupant or occupants thereof reside separately and independently of the other occupant or occupants of the same apartment. When a class A multiple dwelling is used wholly or in part for single room occupancy, it remains a class A multiple dwelling.

  18. A lodging house is a multiple dwelling, other than a hotel, a rooming house or a furnished room house, in which persons are housed for hire for a single night, or for less than a week at one time, or any part of which is let for any person to sleep in for any term less than a week.

  19. Public hall shall mean a hall, corridor or passageway within a building but outside of all apartments and suites of private rooms.

  20. Public part of a dwelling includes a public hall and any space used in common by the occupants of two or more apartments or rooms, or by persons who are not tenants, or exclusively for mechanical equipment of such dwelling or for storage purposes.

  21. Living room shall mean any room within a dwelling unit except a dining space, kitchenette, bathroom or water closet compartment, foyer or private hall, corridor or passageway.

  22. The floor area is the clear area of the floor contained within the partitions or walls enclosing any room, space, foyer, hall or passageway of any dwelling.

  23. Dining space shall mean a space with fifty-five square feet or less of floor area, which has such permanent fittings, as the department requires, located off a living room, foyer or kitchen. A dining space includes a dining bay, dining recess or dinette.

  24. Foyer shall mean a space within a dwelling unit in a multiple dwelling used as an entrance hall from the public hall, which is not a living room when its floor area does not exceed either: (a) ten percent of the total floor area of the dwelling unit; or (b) twenty percent of such floor area, if every living room is at least twenty percent larger than the required minimum room size.

  25. Kitchen shall mean a living room used for cooking with eighty square feet or more of floor area.

  26. Kitchenette shall mean a space used for cooking with less than eighty square feet of floor area.

  27. Dormitory shall mean a space occupied for sleeping purposes by three or more persons who are not members of a family maintaining a common household in:
    1. A lodging house, except for an apartment occupied solely by an owner, janitor or superintendent; or
    2. A college or school dormitory legally recorded and classified in the department prior to May fifteenth, nineteen hundred fifty-four, or converted to such use prior to April thirtieth, nineteen hundred fifty-six; or
    3. A dwelling owned and operated by a religious, charitable or educational organization for the purposes enumerated in section 27-2077 of article four of subchapter three of this chapter; or
    4. A dwelling owned, operated or used for the purposes enumerated in section 27 2077 of article four of subchapter three of this chapter.

  28. Premises shall mean land and improvements or appurtenances or any part thereof.

  29. Structure shall mean a building or construction of any kind.

  30. Alteration, as applied to a building or structure, shall mean any change or rearrangement in the structural parts or in the existing facilities of any such building or structure, or any enlargement thereof, whether by extension on any side or by any increase in height, or the moving of such building or structure from one location or position to another.

  31. A multiple dwelling is fireproof if the walls and structural members thereof meet the fire-resistive standards set forth in subdivision twenty-five of section four of the Multiple Dwelling Law. Any other multiple dwelling is nonfireproof. A part of a dwelling is fireproof if it meets the standard set forth in the Multiple Dwelling Law for the corresponding part of a fireproof dwelling.

  32. Fire-retarded shall mean either covered with metal lath plastered with two or more coats of mortar or otherwise protected against fire in a manner approved by the department with materials of standard fire-resistive ratings of at least one hour. Fireproofing shall always be accepted as meeting any requirement for fire retarding.

  33. A rear yard is an open space on the same lot with a dwelling between the extreme rear line of the lot and the extreme rear wall of the dwelling. A side yard is a continuous open space on the same lot with a dwelling between the wall of a dwelling and a line of the lot from the street to a rear yard or rear line of a lot.

  34. A court is an open space other than a side or rear yard, on the same lot as a dwelling. A court not extending to the street or rear yard is an inner court. A court extending to the street or rear yard is an outer court.

  35. A story is a space between the level of one finished floor and the level of the next higher finished floor, or, if the top story, the space between the level of the highest finished floor and the top of the highest roof beams, or, if the first story, the space between the level of the finished floor and the finished ceiling immediately above. For the purpose of measuring height by stories in multiple dwellings erected after April eighteenth, nineteen hundred twenty-nine, one additional story shall be added for each twelve feet or fraction thereof that the first story exceeds fifteen feet in height, and for each twelve feet or fraction thereof that any story above the first story exceeds twelve feet in height.

  36. Except as otherwise provided, the curb level, for the purpose of measuring the height of any portion of a building, is the level of the curb at the center of the front of the building; except that where a building faces on more than one street, the curb level is the average of the levels of the curbs at the center of each front. Where no curb elevation has been established the mean level of the land immediately adjacent to the building prior to any excavation or fill shall be considered the curb level, unless the city engineer shall establish such curb level or its equivalent.

  37. A cellar in a dwelling is an enclosed space having more than one-half of its height below the curb level. A cellar shall not be counted as a story.

  38. A basement is a story partly below the curb level but having at least one-half of its height above the curb level. A basement shall be counted as a story.

  39. A shaft is an enclosed space extending through one or more stories of a building connecting a series of openings therein, or any story or stories and the roof, and includes exterior and interior shafts whether for air, light, elevator, dumbwaiter or any other purpose.

  40. A stair is a flight or flights of steps together with any landings and parts of public halls through which it is necessary to pass in going from one level thereof to another.

  41. A firestair is a fireproof stair, enclosed in fireproof walls, within the body of the building, which it serves, to which access may be had only through self-closing fireproof doors.

  42. A firetower is a fireproof stair, enclosed in fireproof walls, without access to the building from which it affords egress other than by a fireproof self-closing door opening on a communicating balcony or other outside platform at each floor level.

  43. A fire escape is a combination of outside balconies and stairs providing an unobstructed means of egress from rooms or spaces in a building.

  44. Window dimensions shall always be taken between stop beads or, if there are no stop beads, between the sides, head and sill of the sash opening.

  45. The term "owner" shall mean and include the owner or owners of the freehold of the premises or lesser estate therein, a mortgagee or vendee in possession, assignee of rents, receiver, executor, trustee, lessee, agent, or any other person, firm or corporation, directly or indirectly in control of a dwelling. Whenever a multiple dwelling shall have been declared a public nuisance to any extent pursuant to section 27-2114 of article one of subchapter five of this chapter and such declaration shall have been filed, as therein provided, and for the purposes of section 27-198 of article nineteen of subchapter one and section 27-2093 of article one of subchapter four of this code, the term "owner" shall be deemed to include, in addition to those mentioned hereinabove, all the officers, directors and persons having an interest in more than ten per cent of the issued and outstanding stock of the owner as herein defined, as holder or beneficial owner thereof, if such owner be a corporation other than a banking organization as defined in section two of the banking law, a national banking association, a federal savings and loan association, the mortgage facilities corporation, savings banks life insurance fund, the savings banks retirement system, an authorized insurer as defined in section one hundred seven of the insurance law, or a trust company or other corporation organized under the laws of this state all the capital stock of which is owned by at least twenty savings banks or by at least twenty savings and loan associations or a subsidiary corporation all of the capital stock of which is owned by such trust company or other corporation.

  46. Summer resort dwelling shall mean a dwelling, located in a summer resort community, which is occupied in whole or in part for living purposes only for a seasonal period of the year between June first and September thirtieth, other than by the family of the owner or the family of a caretaker.

  47. This code shall mean the Housing Maintenance Code. b. Except as otherwise provided herein, all terms used in this chapter shall be construed in a manner consistent with their use in the Multiple Dwelling Law.

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