In Depth: A look at illegal apartments

City officials say illegal basement apartments are becoming a growing problem.

Department of Housing Preservation and Development officials say Bronx residents who live in basement apartments should be careful. They say anyone looking to move into a basement apartment should make sure there are two ways out. Windows can be a good way to get out in case of emergency but they must be a certain size and accessible from the first floor to meet code.

The safety of basement apartments is a concern of the Department of Buildings. If the apartments do not meet code, tenants may be forced to vacate.

Living in basement apartments can also have some unhealthy side effects. Doctors say because basements tend to be damp and stuffy, and great places for mold growth, those who live in them can suffer from allergies and asthma.

Anyone looking to rent a basement apartment or buy a building with basement space, should check with the Department of Buildings to see if the space can be occupied legally. Tenants who feel their apartments may not be safe can also call to file a complaint.

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