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Craigslist Apartment with 'Four Spacious Bedrooms' Isn't Just Laughable, But Illegal

Courtesy of Mark Edwards, at the PropertyProf Blog, comes the revelation that a bunch of your friends are criminals. Because everybody knows someone who lives in New York and has three "really cool roommates." Unfortunately, The New York Times broke the news yesterday that more than three unrelated people sharing an apartment in the city is a no-no.

Well, maybe it's only worthy of a single "no," since the law is admittedly rarely enforced, despite the prevalence of the practice. I mean, who could fault someone for wanting to share this place with three perfect strangers?

An erstwhile New Yorker myself, I knew countless people who, at some point in their lives, found themselves in a similar living situation (though the closest I came was when one of my 1L roommates moved his girlfriend into our already far too tiny dorm room for a few months). It is, like the dude in the Times article said, "part of New York culture."

According to Jerilyn Perine, a former city housing commissioner quoted by the Times, New York City's roommates rule dates to the 1950s, "when the city balked at the number of sketchy single-room-occupancy buildings and their often equally sketchy inhabitants, and wanted boarding house brownstones to be converted back to family homes." (That process of conversion has its own problems. "A Meaningful Life," writer L.J. Davis' fictional 1971 chronicle of renovating a dilapidated Brooklyn brownstone -- kicking out its dozens of prior inhabitants in the process -- paints a grim picture of what we're talking about here.)

Edwards, a professor at William Mitchell College of Law who is guest blogging at PropertyProf, worries about the specter of selective enforcement. Are we worrying about a trivial legal issue to gin up material for an academic issue to write about at length? All I'm saying is let's all agree this is another one for the list of silly laws that they should just strike from the books before the next printing (which may result in your bedside lamp being a bit shorter) and just move on.

Posted by Eric Lipman on March 29, 2010 at 02:58 PM | Permalink | Comments (10)


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