New York, NY – Amidst an affordable housing crisis, with too many studios and one-bedroom apartments, New Yorkers resort to putting up “temporary” or “pressurized” walls to illegally subdivide apartments in order to offer children privacy or add roommates to cover skyrocketing rents. These “Flex Apartments'' are so common that there are thousands of units listed on StreetEasy as “1-bedroom flex 2.” Council Member Ben Kallos, a lifelong tenant, has lived in numerous apartments with these illegal walls installed by previous tenants and even landlords, and is proposing legislation to make these ubiquitous temporary walls legal to make it easier for families and New Yorkers.
“No one can afford to live in New York City, but adding a temporary wall can really help split the rent or add a room for a new baby so parents like me can get a good night’s sleep, and maybe some privacy with my wife,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “It’s ridiculous that these temporary walls are illegal, they are literally everywhere, and they aren’t going anywhere. Making these walls legal and getting them registered means first responders will actually know when and where to expect these walls and it will save lives.”
A pressurized wall or temporary wall is a wall installed with the use of pressure, as opposed to screws, that looks and functions in the same way as a conventional wall, but can be easily removed without causing damage to the existing building. The Department of Buildings does not discriminate between temporary pressurized walls and permanent walls requiring the hiring a cottage industry of professionals from architects to expediters costing tens of thousands that can make installation an impossibility.
As a result, many landlords either install pressurized walls or look the other way in order to accommodate tenant requests, with most companies charging less than $1,000 for the service. Following a crackdown in 2010, Some landlords will not allow these walls, forcing tenants to use bookcases that must be at least 12 inches from the ceiling without a door, offering little to no privacy.
By Council Member Kallos
A LOCAL LAW
To amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to the installation, alteration or removal of temporary pressurized walls
Be it enacted by the Council as follows:
1 Section 1. Item 9 of section 28-105.4 of the administrative code of the city of New York, 2 as renumbered by local law number 195 for the year 2018, is renumbered item 10 and new item 9 3 is added, to read as follows:
4 9. The installation, alteration or removal of a temporary pressurized wall, provided that 5 notice of such installation, alteration or removal is submitted to the department with a drawing 6 indicating the location of such temporary pressurized wall.
7 § 2. Section 28-18.104.22.168 of the administrative code of the city of New York is amended 8 by adding a definition of the term “temporary pressurized wall”, in alphabetical order, to read as 9 follows:
10 TEMPORARY PRESSURIZED WALL. A wall that extends from the floor to the ceiling 11 and is installed by the use of pressure without being permanently affixed to the floor, ceiling, or 12 any other wall and can be removed without damage to the floor, ceiling or any other wall.
13 § 3. This local law takes effect 90 days after it becomes law.