Once upon a time, that is before 1976, the New York City Dept. of Buildings largely ignored balcony enclosures in high-rise buildings. You could turn your balcony into a greenhouse or even an extension of your living room and nobody would care — mostly. And nobody knows how many people did it either.
But enough people must have because in 1976 DOB decided it was a problem and issued a memo saying the enclosures couldn’t amount to a permanent expansion of the apartment. Some people made sure their enclosure complied and — surprise — some people didn’t. But again, nobody knows how many people did what and balconies kept being enclosed in compliant and not so compliant ways.
So, in 2014, DOB issued another memo saying all bets were off. The 1976 memo was rescinded and no more balcony enclosures would be permitted. But — if you already had an enclosure and it met the 1976 requirements — you could keep it.
Apparently, however, it was only this year that DOB started actively policing these balcony enclosures. And, in particular, DOB changed its regulations to require all balcony enclosures to be included in the next round of building façade inspections that starts in 2020. That is, high-rise buildings in New York City have to have their facades inspected according to DOB standards and then repaired if they don’t meet the building code. Starting with the next round of inspections, the condition of all the balcony enclosures will have to be included in the façade inspection reports. Then, the illegal enclosures will have to removed or legalized — if that’s possible.
If you have problems with your real estate in New York, call Andrew Weltchek.