Lawrence Veiller

Principal Requirements of the Act Governing Erection and Management of Tenement Property - Definition of a Tenement - Penalties for Violations - Occupancy and Use of Tenement Houses - Alterations in Existing Buildings - New Buildings

This act affects the cities of New York and Buffalo, and provides how tenement houses hereafter erected shall be constructed, and also how all tenement houses shall be maintained. It also contains requirements for the improvement and alteration in many ways of existing tenement houses. A tenement house is defined to be any building occupied or intended to be occupied by three families or more, and includes buildings popularly known as apartment houses and flats. The act also defines a yard, court, shaft, public hall, stair hall, basement, cellar, etc. The act is divided into six chapters: Chapter I, definitions; Chapter 2, protection from fire; Chapter 3, light and ventilation; Chapter 4, sanitary provisions; Chapter 5, remedies, and Chapter 6, general provisions.

Purchasers of tenement property before passing title should search the records of the Tenement House Department to ascertain what violations of the Tenement House Act are pending against such property. Such searches will be made by the Department free of charge for all persons having a legitimate interest.

* Reprinted from the Standard Real Estate Annual through the courtesy of the Editors and with the permission of the Author.

Before any new tenement house can be lawfully occupied the law requires that the builder shall receive a certificate from the Tenement House Department to the effect that the building has been erected in accordance with the provisions of the Tenement House law. Real estate operators should refuse to make loans unless such certificate is produced. If a tenement house is occupied without such certificate, it is provided that during such unlawful occupation any note secured by a bond or mortgage upon the building or the lot upon which it stands may be declared due at the option of the mortgagee, and that no rent shall be recoverable by the owner or lessee of the premises for this period, nor may an action or special proceeding be maintained therefor, or for possession of the premises or for non-payment of rent. And it is further provided that the house shall be deemed unfit for human habitation, and the Tenement House Department shall cause it to be vacated accordingly.