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Why can't a cellar in new york city have partitions?

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Because New York State fire codes it could be used as a apartment, which would be illegal. It must have two ways in and out(exits) if it is used for storage it must have fire Resistant walls and roof ceilings. Check fire codes and housing codes in NY city.

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In New York, cellars cannot be legally partitioned because they are not made for occupation but as a storage room. This means that it should only be a room that has good exits. Read more http://www.nyc.gov/html/hpd/html/owners/illegal-conversions.shtml.

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