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How to Apply for a Certificate of Occupancy

How to Apply for a Certificate of Occupancy

Applying for Certificate of Occupancy

When you’re growing your business, there are many different aspects that must be given careful consideration before executing on the plan. Most business owners utilize team members to assist with the development of their business to ensure that as many areas are covered as possible. It’s impossible for any single individual to do everything within a business, especially if it is already large or growing quickly.

Businesses or corporations may require moving out of existing locations and into a new location to meet the demands of their business, employees and customers. When looking for a building to claim for your business, whether for an office, a warehouse, or any other type of utility, make sure that not only the building is suitable for occupancy but you have the proper credentials to apply for a certificate of occupancy.

What Is a Certificate of Occupancy?

A certificate of occupancy is a specialized document issued by your local government or building department that verifies your business’ building currently meets all building codes and related laws. This document, when applied for and verified, will state that the building is “suitable for occupancy” for you, your employees and customers or guests.

The type of requirements your certificate of occupancy will need will vary from location to location and based on the type of structure you are purchasing to own. In all following cases, you will need to obtain a certificate of occupancy to verify that you own the building and that it meets all necessary requirements:

  • A new building is being constructed for your business (e.g., a new office, warehouse or factory).
  • An existing building is being repurposed for a new use or different industry (e.g., residential to commercial use).
  • The owner of the building changes (e.g., selling or buying a building).

Depending on your location or jurisdiction, you may need the following and more:

  • Property/building information (address, owner’s name, phone number, email, number of floors).
  • Applicant’s information (name, business name, mailing address, phone, email).
  • Premise/occupancy information (use of the premise, expected occupancy load, prior use of building, list of floors, business information, building permit information)
  • And much more. Contact your local government to verify what type of information is required.

What Constitutes Habitability?

“Suitable for occupancy,” or habitability is the state in which a building is suitable for being lived in. If building codes are not met or other structural characteristics make it an unsafe place to live in, occupy or otherwise be in, the building is not habitable and is not suitable for occupancy.

When determining whether or not a building is habitable, the following conditions must be met:

  • Must provide shelter and has functional locks for security.
  • Must be able to be heated during winter months.
  • Must not be infested (e.g., mice, roaches, mold, termites, etc).
  • Landlord must prevent other tenants from contributing to the following:
    • Excessive noise (in decibels),
    • Second-hand smoke,
    • Selling narcotics.
  • Must provide drinking water.

Each location or jurisdiction may have its own rules and regulations (such as regulations for mirrors, lobbies, window guards, smoke detectors, lead paint protection, and many more). Make sure to verify with your local government to learn more about the types of rules or requirements that your building must meet in order to qualify as “habitable” or “suitable for occupancy.”

Temporary Certificate of Occupancy (TCO)

When businesses need to quickly receive a certificate of occupancy, but where the building’s construction or repurposing is not complete, a temporary certificate of occupancy (or TCO). The TCO grants building owners all the same rights as the traditional certificate of occupancy. The difference is that the TCO, as the name implies, is only valid for a certain period of time. This time frame will vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but is typically about 90 days (3 months). In many cases it’s not uncommon (and is legal) to apply for and renew the TCO, but will require following all the same steps and inspections over again, as they were done in the beginning.

This temporary certification is sought after by companies when a building is still under minor construction, where a section of the floors are currently habitable and can, with a TCO, be legally and safely occupied and/or sold.

Contact your local government today to learn more about how to apply for a certificate of occupancy in your area. Local government officials will be able to provide a thorough background on the certificate of occupancy or temporary certificate of occupancy (TCO), what requirements the building will need, and the credentials required from you or your business to apply.