R5 Zoning in NYC

by | Last updated Jun 3, 2020 | NYC Zoning, Property Development

R5 Zoning in NYC is a low density residential zoning district. In R5 you can build any type of residential building including one or two family houses or multifamily buildings.


R5 Zoning NYC

New York City has many different zoning districts. The purpose of these districts is to restrict what people build based on the location. A zoning district that begins with R is a residential district. These districts are R1 through R10. The higher the number the larger the building you can build there. R5 is most common in Brooklyn, Queens, and The Bronx there is also some R5 in Staten Island. In NYC R5 has many sub categories:

This article will only be addressing regular R5 Zoning.

R5 Contextual Districts: R5A, R5B, and R5D 

Commercial Zoning With Residential Equivalent R5 Zoning


R5 Zoning Regulations:


R5 Zoning Community Facility

In NYC R5 Zoning is a residential zone but you can also develop a Community Facility in R5 zones. When developing a community facility the zoning calculations may be different as community facilities tend to have alternate requirements.


What is R5 Zoning?

R5 zoning is a residential zone.  It allows single family, two family, and multi family buildings. We consider Multi family as 3 families or more.  In R5 you can often see 3 to 4 story attached row houses of 1, 2, or multiple families. In R5 properties you will develop attached, semi-detached, and detached houses / buildings.

Allowed Building Types:

Attached Buildings. Attached buildings are buildings that sit directly on the 2 side lot lines and have no side yards, they can be attached to other buildings on 1 or 2 sides. Row houses are an example of attached buildings.

Semi-Detached Buildings. Semi-detached are buildings that are built on one side lot line and attached to 1 other building. Semi Detached buildings are in groups of two only.

Detached Building – Is a building that has yards on all sides of the building and is not built on a property line.

General R5 Rules:

What You Can Build In R5

Floor Area Ratio or FAR – 1.25 This ratio determines how much square footage you can build on your property. You multiply the lot area by this number (FAR).  See sample analysis below.

Detached Buildings 

Lot Width Minimum – 40′. You must have a 40 foot wide lot to build a detached building.

Lot Area Minimum – 3,800 square feet. You must have a 3,800 square foot property to build a detached building.

Not Detached (any other building type listed above)

Lot Width Minimum – 18′ You must have an 18 foot wide lot to develop an R5 property. Special restrictions apply to smaller lots.

Lot Area Minimum – 1,700 square feet. You must have a 1,700 square foot lot to develop an R5 property. Special restrictions apply to smaller lots.

Maximum Building Heights

Street Wall Height – 30′. The wall closest to the street can be a maximum of 30′ high. This does not count handrails, parapets, or a pitched roof.

Building Height – 40′ The maximum building height is 40 feet measured to the highest point of a roof. This does not count railings, parapets, or bulkheads.

Buildings over 30′ Tall must have a 15 foot setback from the street wall at the 30′ elevation.

Site Planning

Lot Coverage – 55% You can build on a maximum of 55% of your lot. The property must have an open space of 45% having no building elements on it. Examples are yards, driveways, or paved outdoor areas.

Required Yards:

Rear Yard – 30′ Must have a 30 foot rear yard. There are Special provisions for lots less than 70′ deep. Corner lots do not have rear yards they have 2 side yards and 2 front yards.

Front Yards must be 10′ Minimum or 18′ if larger. A front yard must be at least 10 feet if you are going to provide a yard greater then 10 feet it must be 18 feet or more. You cannot build a front yard greater than 10 and less than 18 feet in depth.

Side Yards:

Side yards can be waived for the abutting side(s) of attached buildings. There are requirements for this that must be met to qualify.

For detached buildings you must have 2 side yards that combined equal 13 feet.  The smallest yard must be at least 5′.

A Semi detached house or building must have one side yard of at least 8 feet.


R5 Zoning Analysis Example

This is an actual property in The Bronx that we looked into for a client who was interested in tearing down a 2 family house to build a multifamily building. Here is the process to determine how many apartments you can build on an R5 property.


The property lot in question is 50 feet wide and 100 feet deep. This gives us a lot area of 5,000 square feet.

Lot Area – 50 x 100 = 5,000 square feet

To determine how many square feet the building can be we need to know the FAR and multiply the lot area by the FAR. The FAR in R5 Zoning is 1.25

Lot Area x FAR  = Buildable Square Footage. (zoning square footage)

5,000 x 1.25 = 6,250 square feet.

The building we can develop on this property can have a maximum floor area of 6,250 square feet. In this example we could develop a multifamily building of 6,250 square feet and have up to 8 apartments in the building.


R5 Zoning Codes

The New York City Zoning Resolution is complicated and quite in depth. In this article we review some basic Zoning Codes with regards to Zoning R5. This analysis does not assume to cover every possible issue or circumstance, but provide a general overview of the basic and most common zoning codes.


Thank You for reading our Blog Post on R5 Zoning in NYC.

I hope this was helpful. 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.