Many times we meet with homeowners who claim their property is a two family home because they are being taxed as a two family, however, legal use is determined by the NYC Department of Buildings, not the Department of Finance. Therefore, you may be getting taxed as a two family, but in reality, your property may be classified as a one family by the Department of Buildings. Here are a few ways to find out if your property is indeed a legal two family home, and what you can do if you believe it should be a two family…
Certificate of Occupancy Search
This is the absolute best thing you can reference to determine the legal use of your property. You can do a C of O search on the Department of Building’s website: http://www.nyc.gov/html/dob/html/home/home.shtml Just plug in your property address on the left side of the screen, then click “Search”, once in the Property Profile Overview, click the “View Certificates of Occupancy” link. If you have a C of O on file, congratulations, you have a legal document verifying the legal use of your building. Whatever is on this Certificate of Occupancy is the legal use as it stands. You can also view job filings on this page in case a conversion was started in the past but never finished.
Old Buildings Erected prior to January 1, 1938
Old buildings erected prior to January 1, 1938 predate the requirement for Certificate of Occupancy regulations. Therefore, if you do a C of O search and receive a message like this “No Certificate of Occupancy has been issued according to the Building Department’s indexed records”, chances are that your property may have been built prior to 1938 when C of Os were not yet required.
The only remaining option, if there is no C of O, but you strongly believe that it should be a legal two family, is to apply to the city for something called a “Letter of No Objection”. The logic behind this process is that since the home was taxed as a 2 family prior to 1938 then the city could (at their discretion) provide a letter of no objection allowing you to use the home as a legal 2 family home. In recent cases the city has been difficult about providing letters of no objections. In addition, they sometimes require an inspection of the premises which is not a good idea if your home is not currently set up as a two family. If your property is not currently set up as a two family, then an inspection by the Department of Buildings could actually create more issues for you. However, if you are being taxed as a two family, and your property is properly set up as a two family, you will have a better chance of getting a letter of no objection.
The “Letter of no Objection” process requires you hiring the services of an expediter who will have to go thru the following steps:
1) Obtain the tax records from the Department of Finance to show proof that the home was taxed as a 2 family prior to 1938.
2) Prepare the necessary forms to request the letter of no objection from the Department of Buildings.
If you have any questions, or need any help determining the legal use of your property, feel free to contact us at: (347) 921-0895 or Queenshometeam@kw.com