NYS multiple dwelling law

Hi All - I own a duplex in upstate NY, both units are currently Airbnbs. The upstairs attic is unfinished but I believe I might be able to get it zoned as a third unit. If I rehabbed the attic, moved into that unit, would my 2 Airbnb units still be compliant with NYS multiple dwelling law (since I am living in the house)?

I’m assuming that your local zoning office has told you? I’m sure that they know more than we do.

  1. Each country, state, city, and HOA (if applicable) has there own rules that are constantly changing. This is NOT the place to get legal advice for something that will require a monetary investment.

  2. You would be better advised to go to your local jurisdiction to clarify and/or follow a local forum that may have more contemporaries to your situation.

  3. Also worth noting that, should you find that creating the 3rd unit will make you compliant with the current regulations, you can’t count on that being grandfathered and not changed at some point in the future.


I am not a lawyer but I used to live in New York. We have been landlords for quite some time.

Here is my understanding. Homeowner(s) are usually allowed to use their property as they see fit, if it does not cause a disturbance or violate specific laws. So, if you wish to live in your attic, basement, den or garage, then there is often nothing to prevent it. So, large extended families can live in spaces designed for fewer people.

BUT, when you rent out any part of your space, things change. The basic rule is every unit must be zoned and compliant. Different rules apply if you rent out “rooms”.

So, you might “get away” with living in an illegal attic apt, especially if you were very quiet about it, but it is not likely allowed or legal without rezoning.

Some other stuff to think about. Getting an attic re-zoned could be a nightmare. The new space would probably be expected to be fully compliant with all modern code - unless you can get grandfather applies. It may open you up to a tax re-assessment. FYI - most companies will not insure 3 or more units and it costs more (we speak from experience here).

You probably could live in a motor home or camper on your property …