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Terminating Tenancies for Overcrowding
May 7, 2015 by Adam P. Cooper
Landlords are often faced with the issue of tenants who allow an excessive number of people to occupy their apartments. Often these are family members, friends, and minors. The overcrowding can include bunk beds and the like. “Overcrowding” is governed by the Multiple Dwelling Law (MDL) and the Housing Maintenance Code (HMC). MDL § 31(6)(A) provides that, except in class B dwellings and dormitories, no room shall be occupied for sleeping purposes by more than two adults. There is a carve-out for children—two children between the ages of 2 and 12 years of age are the equivalent of one adult, and children under the age of 2 are not considered occupants). In the City of New York, HMC § 27-2075 provides that every person occupying an apartment must have a livable area of at least 80 square feet (livable area does not include private halls, foyers, bathrooms, or water closets). There is also a carve-out for children—for every two adults there may be one child under 4 years of age.
Landlords often find themselves at a crossroads when they discover an apartment that violates the overcrowding statutes. Case law ultimately provides that a landlord must show the existence of an actual violation when terminating a tenancy on the basis of breach of the overcrowding statute.