by Jon Michael Probstein on Jun. 13, 2018

Real Estate Real Estate  Landlord-Tenant 

Summary: The issue of renting illegal apartments in Long Island.

As we now know all too well, many Americans are struggling to make their mortgage payments, while others are in desperate need of affordable housing. Enter the so-called mother-in-law apartment, which can fix both issues: Homeowners can fetch extra cash and in the process provide decent, below-market rentals. But can you convert your basement to an apartment? Each town has it's own code but many are similar to the Town of Hempstead's which only permit a single family home to be converted to a two family home under the following conditions: a) a permit is issued and plans approved and b) the second unit is used by a parent, child or sibling of the homeowner or the owner of the house is a senior citizen and obtains a special two-family senior citizen residence permit. If you don't follow the rules of your town, etc., it is an illegal apartment. Besides the danger of being fined by your local building department and the inability to collect rent in a non-payment proceeding (you cannot sue in court for rent of an illegal apartment), your insurance policy may be in danger (certainly an issue when people are injured on your property, there is a fire, etc.) as the insurer may disclaim coverage and your mortgage company may claim a default. In a recent landlord and tenant case, I spoke to the Town of Hempstead Building Department and they stated that under no circumstances, will they grant a permit for a basement apartment. You should note that the rules appear to permit the letting by a family of one (1) or more rooms to not more than two (2) boarders, roomers or lodgers, provided, however, that every room in such apartment shall have free and unobstructed access to each required exit. The applicable statute in the Town of Hempstead is Chapter 88: HOUSING AND REHABILITATION CODE.

Legal Articles Additional Disclaimer is not a law firm and does not offer legal advice. Content posted on is the sole responsibility of the person from whom such content originated and is not reviewed or commented on by The application of law to any set of facts is a highly specialized skill, practiced by lawyers and often dependent on jurisdiction. Content on the site of a legal nature may or may not be accurate for a particular state or jurisdiction and may largely depend on specific circumstances surrounding individual cases, which may or may not be consistent with your circumstances or may no longer be up-to-date to the extent that laws have changed since posting. Legal articles therefore are for review as general research and for use in helping to gauge a lawyer's expertise on a matter. If you are seeking specific legal advice, recommends that you contact a lawyer to review your specific issues. See's full Terms of Use for more information.