Certificate of Occupancy

Certificate of Occupancy
A Certificate of Occupancy

A Certificate of Occupancy is a document issued by a local government agency or building department certifying a building's compliance with applicable building codes and other laws, and indicating it to be in a condition suitable for occupancy.

The procedure and requirements for the certificate vary widely from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and on the type of structure. In the United States, obtaining a certificate is generally required whenever:

  • a new building is constructed
  • a building built for one use is to be used for another (e.g. an industrial building converted for residential use)
  • occupancy of a commercial or industrial building changes, or ownership of a commercial, industrial, or multiple-family residential building changes

The purpose of obtaining a Certificate of Occupancy is to prove that, according to the law, the house or building is in livable condition. Generally, such a certificate is necessary to be able to occupy the structure for everyday use, as well as to be able to sign a contract to sell the space and close on a mortgage for the space.

A certificate of occupancy is evidence that the building complies substantially with the plans and specifications that have been submitted to, and approved by, the local authority. It complements a building permit—a document that must be filed by the applicant with the local authority before construction to indicate that the proposed construction will adhere to ordinances and codes and laws.

New York City

In New York City, in order for a building to obtain a Certificate of Occupancy, the structure must pass a series of inspections, as well as a walk-through from the Department of Buildings. In most cases, the inspections include, but are not limited to, plumbing inspections, sprinkler inspections, fire alarm inspections, electrical inspections, fire pump pressure tests, architectural inspections (where inspector checks if building was built in accordance with an Architect's stamped and approved drawings), elevator inspections, completion of lobby, and an inspection to see if the building complies with the proper amount of entrances required for its size. After all inspections are passed, the last step is generally to have a walk-through by a member of the Department of Buildings, who sees that there is no major construction remaining on the job site, that there are no obstructions to the entrances, that there are no safety hazards in the building, and that everything in the building was built according to plan. If the inspector approves his walk-through, a Certificate of Occupancy is usually granted.

Temporary Certificate of Occupancy (TCO)

A Temporary Certificate of Occupancy grants residents and building owners all of the same rights as a Certificate of Occupancy, however it is only for a temporary period of time. In New York City, TCOs are usually active for 90 days from the date of issue, after which they expire. It is perfectly legal, and not uncommon in the given situation, for a building owner to re-apply for a TCO, following all the steps and inspections required originally, in order to hypothetically extend their TCO for another period of time.

Temporary Certificate of Occupancies are generally sought after and acquired when a building is still under minor construction, but there is a certain section or number of floors that are deemed to be habitable, and, upon issuance of TCO, can legally be occupied or sold.


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • certificate of occupancy — certificate of oc·cu·pan·cy: a certificate issued by a local authority indicating that a building meets building code requirements Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of Law. Merriam Webster. 1996. certificate of occupancy …   Law dictionary

  • certificate of occupancy — cerˌtificate of ˈoccupancy noun [countable] PROPERTY a document that states that a building has been officially checked and is suitable for a particular use: • The completed building cannot be used until a written Certificate of Occupancy has… …   Financial and business terms

  • certificate of occupancy —   n.    a document, granted by the authority having jurisdiction, permitting occupancy or use …   Locksmith dictionary

  • occupancy — oc‧cu‧pan‧cy [ˈɒkjpənsi ǁ ˈɑːk ] noun [uncountable] formal 1. PROPERTY when someone uses a building or piece of land for living or working in: • The facility will be ready for occupancy on Feb. 20. 2 …   Financial and business terms

  • occupancy — oc·cu·pan·cy / ä kyə pən sē/ n pl cies 1: the fact or condition of holding, possessing, or residing in or on something occupancy of the premises 2: the act or fact of taking or having possession (as of abandoned property) to acquire ownership 3:… …   Law dictionary

  • certificate — cer·tif·i·cate 1 /sər ti fi kət/ n 1 a: a document containing a certified statement esp. as to the truth of something a birth certificate b: a document certifying that a person has fulfilled the requirements of and may practice in a specified… …   Law dictionary

  • certificate — /sartifakat/ A written assurance, or official representation, that some act has or has not been done, or some event occurred, or some legal formality has been complied with. A written assurance made or issuing from some court, and designed as a… …   Black's law dictionary

  • certificate — /sartifakat/ A written assurance, or official representation, that some act has or has not been done, or some event occurred, or some legal formality has been complied with. A written assurance made or issuing from some court, and designed as a… …   Black's law dictionary

  • occupancy — Taking possession of property and use of the same; said e.g. of a tenant s use of leased premises. Period during which person owns, rents, or otherwise occupies real property or premises. Occupancy is a mode of acquiring property by which a thing …   Black's law dictionary

  • occupancy — noun 1. an act of being a tenant or occupant (Freq. 1) • Syn: ↑tenancy • Derivationally related forms: ↑tenant (for: ↑tenancy), ↑occupant, ↑occupy …   Useful english dictionary

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