In New York City the Tenement House Law is enforced by a separate branch of the city government, viz., the Tenement House Department, which was created on January 1st, 1902. The head of the Department is the Tenement House Commissioner. The main office is at 44 East 23d Street, corner of Fourth Avenue, 4th floor. Branch offices are located as follows: In Brooklyn, 44 Court Street, Temple Court Building; in the Bronx, 2804-2808 Third Avenue. The Brooklyn office of the Department has jurisdiction over tenement houses in the boroughs of Queens and Richmond, as well as Brooklyn.

The provisions of the Tenement House Act in regard to new buildings are enforced entirely by the Tenement House Department, and the Bureau of Buildings of each borough has jurisdiction only over the provisions of the Building Code so far as they may relate to tenement houses. This includes plumbing in new buildings. The duties of sanitary inspection formerly performed by the Department of Health have been transferred to the Tenement House Department, except that the Department of Health retains its general work of looking after contagious disease, disinfection of premises, etc. Plans for all new tenement houses must be filed with the Tenement House Department and approved by it before any permit for the erection of such building can be issued by the Bureau of Buildings.

Toilet Accommodations

There must be one water closet for every two families or apartments in each tenement house.


Wherever there are more than eight families in a tenement house and the owner does not reside on the premises, there must be a janitor or housekeeper residing there, provided the Tenement House Department so requires it. No room in a tenement house shall be so overcrowded that there shall be less than 400 cubic feet of air for each adult and 200 cubic feet for each child under twelve.

Public Halls

Lighting at Night - It is required that a light shall be kept burning by the owner in the public hallway near the stairs on the entrance floor, and on the second floor above the entrance floor every night from sunset to sunrise throughout the year, and upon all the other floors of the house from sunset until 10 o'clock.

Service Of Notices And Orders

The posting of a copy of a notice or order in a conspicuous place in a tenement house, together with the mailing of a copy on the same day to each person whose name has been filed with the Tenement House Department, shall be deemed sufficient service, and summons may be served in the same way.

Fire Escapes And Egress

Every tenement house must have a fire escape directly accessible to each apartment. Every tenement house must have in the roof a bulkhead or scuttle, with stationary ladder or stairs leading thereto, and kept free from encumbrance. No scuttle and no bulkhead door shall be locked with a key, but may be fastened on the inside with movable bolts or hooks. All stairways must be provided with proper banisters and railings and kept in good repair.