Single Room Occupancy Units

December 18, 2017 | By Charles Botensten

Q. I am a licensed real estate salesperson.  I have a tenant who is on a budget and is looking for housing in New York City for a temporary work assignment.  A colleague of mine mentioned an SRO as a possible housing alternative.  What is an SRO?  What rules or regulations governing an SRO should my tenant be aware of?

A. SRO stands for “single room occupancy.”  An SRO is a classification of affordable housing somewhere between an apartment and a hotel.  An SRO unit generally consists of a single room and a bathroom that is shared with other tenants.  The SRO unit may also have access to a common kitchen area. 

SRO buildings are governed by rent stabilization laws.  Therefore, rent increases and the services required to be provided to tenants are set forth in such laws.  New residents in an SRO can become a permanent tenant, protected by rent stabilization laws, by living in an SRO unit for 6 months or more or by simply submitting a written request for a lease to the landlord.  Anyone who has lived in an SRO unit for more than 30 days or who has become a permanent tenant by requesting a lease cannot be evicted without a court order and warrant of eviction.    

Important Tip:  An SRO unit in Class A Multiple Dwellings (which are defined as units that are used for permanent residency), may be in violation of a recent New York City law (the “NYC Law”) that prohibits owners of Class A Multiple Dwellings from renting out units for stays less than 30 days. Licensed real estate professionals interested in representing owners in the rental of an SRO for less than 30 days should consult with legal counsel to confirm that the SRO does not violate the NYC Law.

The Legal Line Question by:
Neil B. Garfinkel
REBNY Broker Counsel

Partner-in-charge of real estate and banking practices at Abrams Garfinkel Margolis Bergson, LLP