It turns out that the confederacy of bachelors written about in The New York Times is not only violating social norms with their fun-loving Astoria bachelor pad—they’re also violating the city’s housing laws.
As it happens, more than three unrelated people are prohibited from “occupying a dwelling unit and maintaining a common household.” Hey, the men may feel like brothers, but the housing maintenance code doesn’t truck in feelings, only formal blood relationships.
Apparently, like many of the city’s housing scofflaws, the roommates were unaware that they have been breaking an old-fashioned, rarely-enforced city rule for the last 18 years that they’ve lived together.
When The Observer reached one of the roommates, Shyaporn Theerakulstit, to ask if he and his roommates had been aware of his apartment’s rule-breaking status when they agreed to be featured in The Times, Mr. Theerakulstit was a surprised to learn that such a law existed.
“I’ve never heard of that law before!” he exclaimed, pouring forth his thoughts on the law before he paused, suddenly wary of the housing code enforcers closing in on him and his roommates, and asked that we not quote any of his comments.
Fortunately, the bachelors of Fortress Astoria are but one of the city’s many households violating various housing laws. They’re not even the first rule breakers that The Times has profiled—in 2010, the paper ran an article about the law, interviewing a number of violators who adamantly rejected the idea of giving up their shared townhouses and airy apartments for life in a lonely shoebox.
In fact, some 15,000 dwellings in the city house three or more roommates who are unrelated to the head of the household, according to the Census Bureau’s 2008 American Community Survey.
With rising rents in both Manhattan and Brooklyn, and fewer and fewer renters able to afford studios, it seems like it might finally be time to ditch the outdated, oft-ignored rule. After all, the bachelor brood of Astoria has dealt with enough challenges to maintain their lifestyle—disapproving girlfriends and parents, the lure of marriage and family, moving to Queens—surely they don’t need another hurdle to overcome.