Ask Real Estate: Can I Divide My Apartment Into Two?

January 1, 2018

The New York Times
By Ronda Kaysen

Ask Real Estate is a weekly column that answers questions from across the New York region. 

Q. My wife and I have lived in a prewar co-op on the Upper West Side since 1985. In 1996, we purchased the neighboring unit, combining the two apartments to enlarge our living space. We are both seniors now and no longer need so much space. Are there any city laws or codes that would prohibit us from redividing the apartments and returning them to their original configurations so that we could sell one and remain in the other?


Even a modest renovation means getting permission from the co-op board to do the work, a process that can be anything but simple. “There may be many hoops to jump through,” said Andrew P. Brucker, a real estate lawyer and partner in the New York City office of Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads.

For example, you may need to obtain a letter stating that the share allocation between the two apartments is fair. And most proprietary leases require shareholders to sign an alteration agreement with the board. Even a new kitchen “can be a major undertaking” in a co-op, Mr. Brucker said.


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