New York City Building Codes were updated in 1968, 2008 and again in 2014. According to the 2008 New York City Building Code, which applies to most multi-family buildings constructed between 2008 and the present, a legal bedroom must generally meet these criteria:
- Have a minimum of 80 square feet and no dimension measuring less than 8 feet. If the apartment contains three or more bedrooms, half of the bedrooms may have a minimum dimension of 7 feet.
- Have a minimum ceiling height of 8 feet. If the bedroom is in a basement, it must have a ceiling height of at least 7 feet. If there’s a sloped ceiling over all or part of the room, there must be a clear ceiling height of at least 7 feet over at least two-thirds of the room.
- Have at least one window that opens to a street, yard, garden or court on the same lot. In some zoning districts, skylights may be substituted for windows.
- Have two means of egress; whether egress is via window or a door, it must be operable from the inside without the use of keys, tools or special skills.
- Cannot serve as a passage to another room.
Many brokers and leasing agents suggest that a bedroom must also include a closet if it’s to be considered “legal,” but the NYC building code does not include such a requirement.