The One Where They Turned Two Condos Into 18 Apartments

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apartmentsEveryone knows (or almost everyone) that living in an apartment can blow. If you are blissfully unaware of how bad apartment life can be, we applaud you on your foresight to be born into a family with a palatial mansion and zero desire to make you live on your own at a tender age.

But as bad as some of the apartments I’ve lived in (I mean, it told you about the landlord who I found using my shower because she “liked my soap,” while her goat, Martin Sheen, ate my underwear), the “micro-apartments” these two Manhattan landlords the New York City buildings department busted last week take the cake. 

I’ll let the New York Post explain: 

“A Lower East Side condo owner turned his small apartment into a mini-village — by converting it into an illegal duplex with 11 sub-units that had ceilings as low as 4 ¹/₂ feet high, officials said Friday.

The illegal micro apartments at 165 Henry Street are so cramped that condo owner Xue Ping Ni even put up bubble wrap as protection to keep residents from hitting their heads on the many low-hanging pipes.”

“Gee, that doesn’t sound legal,” you may be thinking. Congratulations, your thinker is correct. It is not legal to make 18 apartments out of two Manhattan condos.

NYC Department of Buildings

But that’s not all, of course, or this wouldn’t be the Wednesday WTF. Jin Ya Lin had created another set of sub-units in another apartment, and together the two occupied a corner of the top two floors.

For comparison’s sake, there are only 27 legal apartments in the entire building. Ni’s apartment was reportedly 634-square-feet, total. One resident told the Post he paid $600 a month for his tiny living space. One unit had one legal bathroom and one illegal makeshift (ew, not asking) one, and the other one only had one bathroom for all those residents.

“The ceiling heights were 4.5 feet to 6 feet tall on each level, depending on where you were standing,” Department of Buildings spokesperson Abigail Kunitz told NPR.

In other words, we’d like to welcome you to Munchkinland, because my friends, unless you’re representing the Lollipop Guild, you are not going to be comfortable in your not-even-an-eighth-of-an-apartment.

What’s wild is that rent is so pricey in New York that $600 a month for the privilege of a not legal bathroom and the world’s worst bottom bunk seems like a good idea.

That being said, we took a look at some other New York apartments to see what they’d look like as micro-units.

For instance, Monica and Rachel’s living room from “Friends” alone can hold six very short people and one very short, very skinny person.

Carrie Bradshaw’s bedroom from “Sex and the City” can hold most of a Miranda and the head of a Charlotte in one unit, 3/4ths of a Charlotte in another unit, the top half of Samantha in one unit, the bottom half in another unit, two random short people, and one very tall person who only ever stands up.

“The Jeffersons”

“I Love Lucy”

So what do you think? Could you live in a micro-apartment like that? I mean, I know tiny homes are a thing (even if they do sound like a hot box of flatulence to me), but is this taking it too far?

Sound off in the comments!


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Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson lives in a 1961 Fox and Jacobs home with her husband, a second-grader, and Conrad Bain the dog. If she won the lottery, she'd by an E. Faye Jones home. She's taken home a few awards for her writing, including a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She is a member of the Online News Association, the Education Writers Association, the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, and the Society of Professional Journalists. She doesn't like lima beans or the word moist.

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