Sorting through the variety of apartment rentals in NYC can be a daunting task if you’re not familiar with the real estate terminology used. For most NYC rentals, the floor plan will tell you everything you need to know about an apartment, but it’s still good to go into your search well informed and well prepared. Start your search by studying our terminology cheat sheet: Apartment Rentals from A-Z Real Estate Dictionary.
The Real Estate Dictionary for Rentals
A studio apartment with an additional small room (alcove) located to the side. The alcove space is usually used as the sleeping area of the home and can typically fit a double or queen-sized bed.
A balcony is a small outdoor area on the facade of a building. Balconies differ from terraces in that terraces have access to open skies and are on the roof of a building or on the roof of a recessed area of a building.
Among the qualifications for a basement apartment to be legally habitable, it must have sufficient light, ventilation, and adequate means of egress (ability to enter and leave a space). At least half the height of the basement must be above curb level in order to be considered a basement. Less than this is considered a cellar and cellars are not legally habitable in NYC. Full details about the laws behind habitable basement apartments can be found here, and your Agent can show you documentation that a basement dwelling is legally approved by the city of New York.
There are three types of bathrooms in NYC: a full bathroom which has a toilet, sink, and bathtub; a three-quarter bathroom which has a toilet, sink, and shower; and a half bathroom which has a toilet and a sink.
New York City building code defines a bedroom as a room with at least 80 square feet of floor space, a window, two or more ways of egress, 8’ ceilings or higher (7’ for basements), access to a bathroom without having to walk through another bedroom, and the room must not be a passageway into another room. This definition applies steadfastly to buildings built 2008 and beyond, however because there is such a wide range of zoning laws, building types, and apartment sizes in NYC, multiple factors can be at play for defining a pre-2008 bedroom. In case you’re curious, the definitive (and long) list of variants can be found here, or you can simply ask your Agent to explain. Surprisingly enough, a closet is not a requirement for a room to be considered a bedroom!
Brownstones are townhouses made of brown sandstone that first appeared in NYC architecture in the early 19th century. Although Brownstones can be found throughout NYC, most of them are concentrated in Brooklyn, The Upper West Side, Harlem, and The Upper East Side. The color of the sandstone is due to the high level of iron within the stone, and most of the sandstone used in NYC brownstones was sourced from New Jersey quarries.
A Classic 5 is a pre-war (thus the “Classic” part) apartment made up of five main rooms: two bedrooms, a living room, a dining room, and a kitchen.
A Classic 6 is a pre-war apartment made up of six main rooms: two bedrooms, a living room, a dining room, a kitchen, and a smaller bedroom that was once likely used as a maid’s room.
A Classic 7 is a pre-war apartment made up of seven main rooms: three bedrooms, a living room, a dining room, a kitchen, and a smaller bedroom that was once likely used as a maid’s room.
A Classic 8 is a pre-war apartment made up of eight main rooms: four bedrooms, a living room, a dining room, a kitchen, and a smaller bedroom that was once likely used as a maid’s room.
A co-op building is owned by a corporation. Co-op owners don’t technically own property but rather shares in the corporation/building; the larger the apartment, the more shares they own. Co-ops make up about 75% of Manhattan housing inventory. Co-operatives require board approval for rental applicants, making co-operative rental applications lengthier than condo or rental buildings since applicants must wait for the board to meet in order to review their application. Owners of co-operative units must typically live in the unit for at least 2 years before being permitted to rent it out with board approval.
A condo is a building in which individual apartment units are separately owned while common areas are jointly owned. Condos make up about 25% of Manhattan housing inventory. Condominiums typically have flexible rules allowing owners to control who rents their apartment and when.
A condop is a building with residential units that operate as a co-op corporation, and one or more commercial units that operate as a condo.
A convertible 2 apartment is one with an additional area that is large enough to be sectioned off and converted into a second bedroom.
Buildings can have full time and part-time Doormen (and women). Part time means they are at the front desk from about 7 AM until 7 PM, although some buildings’ Doormen are only onsite in the evening, from approximately 7 PM until 7 AM.
A duplex apartment is made up of space on two separate floors of a building and connected by at least one staircase.
In New York City homes you can still find wood-burning, gas, and decorative fireplaces (fireplaces that are no longer in use). Because burning wood releases toxic smoke, the construction of new wood-burning fireplaces was banned in NYC as of May 6, 2015.
A floor-through apartment typically spans across the entire floor of an apartment building, although some floor-through apartments extend from the front to the rear of the building without occupying the entire floor.
A rental is typically offered furnished when it is available for a short-term lease that may range anywhere from one month to one year.
A garden apartment is characterized by its location on or slightly below the ground level of a building. These apartments often have their own entrances and direct access to an outdoor patio, garden, or backyard.
A guarantor is a person who guarantees payment on a lease should the tenant be unable to make payments.
A Junior 1 is a spin on a studio apartment; it has an additional wall separating the sleeping area from the rest of the open-space layout.
A Junior 4 is an apartment with a bedroom, living room, kitchen, and additional area which can be used as a dining room, office, or sleeping area that can’t be considered a legal bedroom unless it meets the bedroom requirements outlined above.
There are various types of kitchens in New York City homes. The most common are:
- Chef’s: kitchens designed with a chef’s love of cooking and practical needs in mind
- Eat-in: kitchens with space for a table
- Galley: kitchens with counters that run along both sides of where one walks in the center
- Gourmet: kitchens with high-end appliances, ample storage and counter space, and modern renovations
- Kitchenette: small kitchens with small appliances such as half-sized refrigerators
- Open: kitchens that are part of a larger room, typically a living room and/or dining room
- Pullman: kitchens whose cabinets and appliances are located along one wall
- Separate: kitchens in their own room; they are not extensions of another room
Most loft apartments are located in converted industrial buildings, although many modern new developments build their units in the likeness of lofts. True lofts have high ceilings, exposed beams and pipes, large windows, and open living spaces.
Luxury High Rise
A luxury high rise is a rental building, typically at least 12 stories high, that has amenities such as a doorman, concierge, building gym, roof deck, and common lounge.
A maisonette is a ground or first floor home that has its own entrance from the street and may have an additional entrance from the building lobby. Maisonettes are typically found in luxury buildings and are often multi-leveled.
A parlor floor is the main entrance of a townhouse, located above street level at the top of the building’s front door stairs.
Post-war buildings are buildings that were constructed after the second World War.
Pre-war buildings are buildings that were constructed before the second World War.
A railroad apartment is an apartment with various rooms that typically run in a line from the front of a building to the back of a building. Each room can be entered by walking through the other rooms rather than through a hallway.
Single Room Occupancies are typically small one-or-two room apartments that have access to a shared bathroom and/or kitchen for use by the building’s other tenants.
A studio apartment is one room that encompasses a sleeping area and living space, as well as a kitchen (which may or may not be separate), and a separate bathroom.
A building superintendent is responsible for the repair and maintenance of a building’s common areas and units. Depending on the size of the building, the Super might do all the work him/herself, or manage a staff that also does the work. Supers sometimes manage multiple buildings and typically live in one of the buildings they manage.
Townhouses are tall and narrow row houses that typically have between three and six stories and are connected to a neighboring townhouse or building. Many townhouses that were originally designed for one family have been converted into multi-family properties. Brownstones are a type of townhouse.
A triplex apartment spans three floors, and each floor is joined by at least one staircase.
A walk-up building is a building without an elevator that has multiple floors, all of which are accessible by stairs.
A wing-two bedroom apartment is made up of two bedrooms connected by the apartment’s only common space, typically a kitchen or living room.
Ready for some more rental words? If you’ve been looking at Real Estate Rental Reports, you may find some of them tricky. To help you read these, check out our handy Real Estate Market Reports: Terminology Cheat Sheet now.