Narrow Lot NYC Zoning

by | Last updated Jul 13, 2020 | NYC Zoning

In New York City the Zoning Resolution requires residential properties to have a minimum lot width. If a property is narrow this can make side yards difficult to provide. The Zoning Codes have a stipulation for narrow lots that allow you to reduce the side yard requirement.


Narrow Lots

Any lot that is less than the required lot width is a narrow lot. If you are looking to build a one or two family house you may be able to get a side yard reduction for narrow lots.

You can read another post we wrote about different lot types in NYC.


Narrow Residential Zoning Lots

This applies to most residential zoning districts and subdistricts in: R1, R2, R3, R4, R5, R6, R7, R8, R9, R10

This does not apply to R2X, R3A, R3X, R4-1, R4A, R4B, R5A, R5B or R5D.

On any residential lot with a minimum side yard requirement you can reduce the side yard requirements for narrow lots. We have another post on the minimum lot width and small zoning lots. Special considerations are taken in certain instances of Narrow lots see below the yard reductions available. The reduction is only available to lots that existed, as they are, on December 15, 1961. You will need to do property records research to determine this. We often handle the records research for our clients.

Narrow Lots Side Yard Reduction

Requirements for Narrow Side Yard Lot Reduction

  • Property Was owned separately from other properties as is on Dec 15, 1961.
  • Proposed Use is Single or Two family house
  • Must be a Detached house
  • Must be less than the required lot minimum width

To qualify for the side yard reduction, the property must be under the required lot width specified for the designated zoning district. It must also have existed on December 15, 1961, and it must be a one or two family detached residence. If it qualifies, the reduction is as follows:

The side yard can be reduced by 4 inches for each foot that the lot width is under the specified minimum.


If you have a required lot width of 40 feet but your property is 37 feet, you have a narrow lot. You can reduce 4 inches per foot, meaning that you can reduce the total required yards by 12 inches. You do not reduce each yard by 12 inches. You reduce the total combined yards by 12. So if you have 2 side yards you could reduce each by 6 inches.

You cannot reduce the yards to less than 5 feet.


Special Regulations for R5D

In R5D any lot less than 30 feet wide on the street front does not require a side yard. The lot must have been in existence when it was Zoned as R5D.


Thank You for Reading Our Blog Post on Narrow Lots.

I hope this was helpful. You can leave questions or comments below. If you want to discuss a specific project with an architect please feel free to contact us directly.


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Jorge Fontan

Jorge Fontan

This post was written by Jorge Fontan AIA a Registered Architect and owner of New York City architecture firm Fontan Architecture. Jorge Fontan has earned 3 degrees in the study of architecture including two degrees from the City University of New York and a Masters Degree in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia University. Jorge has a background in construction and has been practicing architecture for 20 years where he has designed renovations and new developments of various building types.