Looking for Tiny Homes in New York? Here Are Laws to Know
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Looking for Tiny Homes in New York? Here Are Laws to Know

Autonomous|May 6, 2023

Tiny homes are helpful in terms of minimum space utilization and a suitable way to minimize living expenses. Moreover, building and maintaining tiny homes is also environmentally friendly, which is a more significant reason why many states are promoting and facilitating the building of tiny homes. While we talk about tiny houses being legal, they are allowed legally in all 50 states, but each state has specific rules and laws.

In this article, we will cover the New York tiny house laws, so you are aware of all you need to know about building a backyard guest house or working on those shed house ideas without legal trouble. So let’s read on to find out!

Accessory Dwelling Unit New York State Laws

Small houses in New York, also known as accessory dwelling units or ADU, are legally allowed. While this is excellent news for people residing in New York and planning to work on guest house plans, you should also know that New York is the least friendly state of the USA regarding New York State multiple dwelling laws. However, it is also essential to understand that the strictness of these laws is to ensure the safety of the building and the residents. Below we have listed the modular ADU laws in New York State that tiny home builders should know of.

Ceiling Height

The first law for a tiny home in NYC regards the ceiling height. The state has justified a minimum size for the unit to be allowed to be built and pass as a living or rental property. The law states that the minimum ceiling height should be 6 feet and 8 inches for the hallway and bedroom. And when it comes to bathrooms and kitchens, the ceiling height requirement is 6 feet and 4 inches.

Ceiling Height - New York tiny house laws

Minimum Size

Besides ceiling heights, the minimum size requirement is also crucial to know before building a second property in your backyard. For a structure to classify as ADU, the minimum space requirement is 200 square feet, while the maximum space limit is 1500 square feet (If you are planning a three-bedroom living space). But if the secondary unit you add is attached to your home, the maximum space limit becomes 50% of the primary residence but at most 600 square feet.

While there is no strict restriction regarding building a tiny house from scratch or purchasing a built-in, many well-known retailers deal in small homes and offer readymade ADUs to be installed. Autonomous ADUs also come equipped with all the facilities as well as compliance to New York City's zonal laws.

Minimum Size - New York tiny house laws


In New York City, many lofts are residential spaces for families. These lofts are cozy, affordable, and easy to maintain. Regarding lofts in New York, there are separate laws for them. For a loft, the minimum floor area needs to be 35 square feet. Secondly, the loft should be 5 feet horizontally in all directions. The lofts should also have only certain approved types of the entrance. Stairways, ship ladders, or any tread method can enter a loft.

Lofts - New York tiny house laws

Intended Property Use

It is also important to remember that the official intended use of the home as a primary dwelling can affect the minimum dimensions of your home's build. Also, intended use will affect the selection of a site that is in a residential area. Zoning regulations are more lenient if you want to use it as a secondary residence on a primary property.

Safety Laws

Regarding safety laws for a secondary residence in New York or even for multiple dwelling law NYC, it is essential to know that safety laws are strict for everyone. And failing to abide by them can cause blockage of your property. Hence before selecting the correct type of small house kits, it is integral to know that fire safety laws demand your secondary unit to have a minimum of two fire exits.

Portable Tiny House

Portable tiny houses on wheels are relatively common in New York. These houses are also known as recreational vehicles and are used as an extension to a primary home for home office purposes or a prefab guest house. A tiny vehicle house can also be used as a granny shed.

Building a house on wheels is subject to less stringent regulations than residences on foundations. If they adhere to the standards for development, carriage houses in residential zones are legal in some counties. These buildings should be 10 feet from the main house and not taller than three floors.

Portable Tiny House - New York tiny house laws

Parking Space

No parking spot will be required for your ADU, and you won't need to replace the off-street parking if you convert a garage, carport, or other parking structure to an ADU.

Rental Laws

The main reason many people are building a secondary unit in the form of a tiny house in the backyard is to generate some passive income. But when it comes to rental laws for a secondary unit, the rule states that you can only rent the property for up to 30 days minimum. This means that ADUs or secondary units cannot be used as Airbnbs or short-term residences; instead, they are only allowed to have long-term rentals.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is an Accessory Dwelling Unit?

An accessory dwelling unit or more commonly known as ADU is a secondary building either built on a foundation or wheels that share the same land as the primary home. The purpose of an accessory dwelling unit is to have a source of passive income or to increase the living space. ADUs are also famous for home offices, a room for an elderly parent or a child who has turned 18. Also, ADUs cannot be sold or bought independently of the primary residence.

Is Tiny House Legal in New York State?

Yes, tiny houses are legal in New York City, and in many areas, you can quickly build or get a small home built in the backyard. These tiny homes are known as ADU or accessory dwelling units.

What Happens to a Tiny House Built without Compliance with Laws?

The tiny house laws in all states of the country, let alone New York, are designed to provide everyone with safe and secure living spaces. You risk fines and penalties if you construct a tiny house violating the zoning regulations. Often, the city will be able to condemn your building and bring legal action against you, and some may even insist that you completely demolish the structure.

Get your tiny house now and enjoy the experience!

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WRITTEN BYAutonomous

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