Question: Does a Legal Two Family in Queens need a rental permit?
In general, New York City does not have rental permits per se; however, there are registration requirements for "multiple dwelling" buildings. The New York State Multiple Dwelling Law defines a "multiple dwelling" as a building containing three or more separate units. All multiple dwelling buildings in New York City are required to be registered with the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD).
A legal two is classified as a private dwelling since it has less than three units. This means it does not have to automatically register with HPD in the same way a multiple dwelling must. However, a one or two family private dwelling must register with HPD if the owner of the building does not reside within the boundaries of New York City. In that situation, not only must the owner register the building, but he must also register an agent with HPD. While there are no special licensing or professional requirements for this agent, he must reside within the boundaries of New York City.
If a building is not registered with HPD, the owner may be charged with a misdemeanor and/or fined up to $500 for their first violation. In addition, any person who assists with a violation of the registration requirement may be charged with the same penalties. As for broker liability, it can be argued that listing a rental that is not registered with HPD qualifies as assisting in violating the registration requirement; however, this is not explicitly stated.
Registration is extremely easy for an owner to perform and can be done online through HPD's website. For an introduction into the basics of New York City Rentals, check out this packet provided by HPD. Useful Information About Housing Rules and Regulations.