Here’s Why NYC Apartment Buildings Do or Don’t Allow Roof Access

By: ROS Team

Share the Post:

The skyline of New York City serves as a universal symbol for the metropolis. Skyscrapers aren’t the only thing that set this skyline apart; many buildings also provide roof access and terraces, giving these buildings little personality.

There are a plethora of restrictions and regulations surrounding rooftop access in NYC apartment buildings. Making it challenging to ascertain which buildings actually permit such access.

This article will discuss why some buildings provide tenants with rooftop access while others do not. As well as offer advice to renters who find themselves in need of accessing their rooftops.

Reasons Why NYC Apartment Buildings Allow Roof Access

There are many reasons why apartment buildings allow rooftop access. For one thing, it increases property value. Many buyers look for apartments with rooftop terraces or gardens as they can be used in a variety of ways. As an outdoor space for entertaining guests or hosting parties, as an extension of the living room, or even just for relaxing after work.

rooftop access
Photo Credit: Canva

In addition to increasing your home value, allowing rooftop access also gives you more flexibility in how you use your apartment and/or condo building’s common areas. You could host events like picnics or barbecues on the roof, which would otherwise be off-limits if it weren’t accessible from inside your unit!

Reasons Why NYC Apartment Buildings Don’t Allow Roof Access

There are a number of reasons why NYC apartment buildings don’t allow roof access.

The most obvious reason is that it’s dangerous, and your landlord wants to keep you safe. Roofs are not designed for people to walk on but rather for ventilation systems, fire escapes, and skylights. If you fall off the roof of your building, it could lead to serious injury or death. Which would be devastating for both you and those close to you.

Don’t Allow Roof Access
Photo Credit: Canva


Another reason why many buildings don’t allow their tenants onto the rooftop is a liability. If someone gets hurt while trespassing on private property without permission from an owner or manager, then they could sue them in court. This doesn’t mean all owners/managers will automatically be sued following an accident. However, there is always some risk involved when doing something illegal like trespassing, so it’s best not to take any chances!

There may also be legal reasons why certain buildings choose not to let anyone access their rooftop.

Different Types of Roof Access

In NYC, there are different types of roof access, and it’s important to know about all of them.

  • Full Access: This means you can go to the roof whenever you want.
  • Limited Access: There are times when you can’t use the roof, such as during snow days or when it’s raining.
  • Keyed Access: This is when there’s only one key for all residents of an apartment building to use in order to get into their respective buildings’ rooftop areas. The downside? If someone loses their key, everyone else has to wait until another one is made before they can go up again–and that could take weeks!
  • Controlled Access: In controlled-access buildings, there are security guards who make sure that only certain people are allowed on top at any given time (usually residents). They might also check IDs or ask questions before letting anyone through their doors into the staircase leading up through multiple floors until reaching each individual unit’s doorways.

Tips for Tenants who Want Roof Access

If you’re curious about roof access and want to know if your building allows it, ask the landlord in writing, If you are denied access, ask for a reason.

If the answer is no and you still feel like it’s a deal-breaker for you (or if you have already moved into a building that does not allow rooftop access), consider moving somewhere else. There are buildings out there with great views and balconies–you just have to look around!

Finally, Remember: just because it’s legal doesn’t mean it won’t be annoying for other tenants or neighbors who aren’t interested in climbing onto their roofs every once in a while. Be respectful of these people’s wishes (and property) by keeping noise levels down on hot summer days when everyone else wants peace and quiet!

Roof Access is a Rare Luxury in NYC

Roof access is a rare luxury in NYC, Roof access is not just for the rich, it’s also a sign of luxury and status. Many apartments that have this feature will advertise it as such and charge more for their units as a result.

Roof Access is a Rare Luxury in NYC
Photo Credit: Canva

Roofs are also one of the most dangerous areas of an apartment building because they are often exposed to high winds. Which can cause injury or death if you’re not careful when entering or exiting your building via rooftop stairs (or ladder).


Is it Illegal to go on a Roof in NYC?

NYC roofs aren’t illegal, but trespassing on private property is. If you do it, know whose roof you’re on, and don’t trespass.

Can you go on top of Buildings in NYC?

Generally, it is illegal to climb on the top of buildings in NYC. However, there are some exceptions where you can go on top, like public parks with rooftop views, restaurants, and rooftop bars.

Can I Walk Anywhere on my Roof in NYC?

In New York City, you cannot walk anywhere on your roof. In general, accessing rooftops without having a permitted entrance point and security precautions in place is neither legal nor safe. Additionally, many NYC buildings have policies governing rooftop access. To learn more about these guidelines for your specific building, speak with the management or landlord of your building.


If you’re lucky enough to have roof access, enjoy it! Just remember that it’s not something most people will ever experience in their lifetime. And if you don’t have access? Well, there are still plenty of other ways to enjoy the great outdoors here in NYC.