The Roommate Law You've Already Broken

by HANNAH LAWRENCE · March 29, 2010

Yesterday's New York Times brings to our attention a "law" that surely, most of us have broken while living in New York. (It's hardly ever enforced, so relax, and it's not stealing food.) The law states it is illegal for three or more unrelated people to share an apartment or house. All together now: WHAT?!?!?!?!?!-

You should still fill out your Census because this really isn't a big deal. It's only enforced if you and your roomies rack up a bunch of other citations and drive your landlord so insane he's itching to get rid of you. (Maybe buy him some cookies on your way home from work today. Nobody ever got evicted for playing it safe.) But not to badmouth the law or justice, we're still doing happy jigs that building officials and cops have more important things to worry about than who we're sharing our Ritz crackers with at 4 AM.

However, that's not to say this law has never been enforced. In fact, three citations in the city have been issued since July. Boston and Amherst also reserve the right to crack down on you and your buds, but they're a little more lax over there. (The magic number of illegal dwelling is four roommates instead of three.)

But now that we think about it, this law has been broken...repeatedly. Let's examine a few notable crimes against New York real estate that have been televised.


Chandler, Rachel, Ross, Monica, Joey and Phoebe probably broke this law (among others) the most. Not only did they break their leases by moving out and in with each other more times than we can count, they also should have received citations for repeatedly spying on the naked fat man that lived in the building across the street. Also, Ross had a monkey. That's illegal. And Chandler and Joey had a duck and a chick. How did they not get busted for co-habitating with poultry? Maybe an article's coming out about that tomorrow.




How I Met Your Mother

Jason Segel, Alyson Hannigan, Josh Radnor, Cobie Smulders and Neil Patrick Harris

Yep, these lovely guys also broke the law -- but to much less of a degree than the criminals above. Before Marshall and Lily were married, Ted also lived with them, who was their perpetual third wheel and refrigerator stocker. And then when Robin was dating Ted, that brought the apartment's occupancy of unrelated people to a whopping four. Sound the alarms! If Barney had been depressed and had shacked up there too, they probably would have broken five sanitation laws. Luckily for them, that never happened because Barney has his own perfect bachelor pad, complete with a storm-pooper (I mean trooper) and a neon-lighted porn collection.





The Real World: Manhattan AND Brooklyn

That's right! The 1992 and 2001 houses in Manhattan and the Brooklyn cast of 2009 each broke the law, two-fold! And we all know the kinds of shenanigans and destruction of property that go down in each and every one of these houses, so if these guys were to have been cited, they had it coming. If, and we say if, you happen to have a police officer knocking on your door and handing you a fine for living with people that aren't your mother or father (which is A-OK!), point to your pet and ask them to acknowledge how well-fed it is. God knows the fish in each and every one of those "Real World" houses were starving the entire four months, and New York State does not take kindly to animal cruelty.



America's Next Top Model

Furthermore on the reality show front, there's "America's Next Top Model." This show is in it's fourteenth season, and Tyra and her producers have broken this law each one,  three or four times in each house. As the New York Times points out, landlords really only care about dents in the wooden floor, stains on the carpets and mold in the bathroom. But if they come in rapid succession, landlords won't care if they're evicting the prettiest people in the building: they'll just care if the lovely ladies can provide a family tree from (which the models cannot, because they don't have a computer in the house). But maybe a brush with the law is part of how models make it into the business. That certainly was the case for Naomi Campbell, and these girls would probably break every law in the book if it meant they could be like her. So they'd probably pose their way out of eviction. Good for them.

[images via zingtech, janeheller, tvreviews, realitytvmagazine, babble]