Houses for Sale

Why Do I Need A Certificate of Occupancy?

There are a set of rules that need to be followed in regard to every building or structure in order to ensure that it is safe to exist in. These rules are known as “building codes.” If you are going to buy a property, you need to be aware of what rules you will need to follow so that you can be granted “planning permission” from your local council. Planning permission, also known as developmental approval, is essentially the consent to move forward with construction, expansion, or even demolition. So, if you are building a home, you will require a house building permit. Another document you will often need when purchasing or building a new property such as a home or other building is a certificate of occupancy.

What Is It?

A certificate of occupancy is something that is required for property owners whether they are renting or investing. This document tells the reader three things; the first being what the purpose of the building or structure is. The certificate outlines the property “class.” A property class can either be commercial, residential, industrial, retail, single or multifamily or mixed-use. Properties are classified to prevent people from using them in the wrong way; turning a retail property into a home, for instance. The certificate also proves that the building is following all safety codes and is suitable for people to live or work inside of. Another thing this document proves is that all housing codes and building codes are being adhered to. This protects the owner in the event that there is a complaint about their property.

Who Needs This Certificate?

Whether you need one or not will depend on the rules and regulations in your area, so make sure to look into those if you are investing in a property. If your property is new construction, a property conversion (e.g., commercial to residential), switching owners, or undergoing construction that will affect the occupancy amount or where the exits are located, you will need a certificate of occupancy. It is very important to keep this up to date, so if any of these situations match yours, make sure you look into the rules in your area to make sure you have all of the proper documentation.

How to Get A Certificate of Occupancy

You can get one of these through your local government at either the building department or the department of housing. If you want a certificate, you must inquire about one before beginning the construction or other changes you wish to make. After this, your property will need to undergo inspection and pass in order to get the certificate. Areas of your property that will be inspected include the plumbing, electrical, and fire safety aspects. The building as a whole will also be evaluated to ensure that it is up to code. If you owe any fines, you will also need to take care of those before you are approved for your certificate of occupancy. If you happen to fail your inspection due to building code violations, the inspector will provide you with a detailed list of everything you need to have taken care of in order to pass. These corrections are time-sensitive, so it is a good idea to get started on addressing any issues with your property right away so there is no further delay in receiving your certificate of occupancy. You will likely have to pay a re-inspection fee when you call the inspector back again, but once you pass, you can have your certificate right away.

The Consequences of Not Having A Certificate

Not every town’s laws require certain property owners to have a certificate of occupancy. If yours does, make sure you take the steps you need to take in order to get one. If you fail to do so, you might have to pay hefty fines that grow with each day you don’t pay. You could also be served a lawsuit by your town. Don’t ignore your local laws, it will cost you in the long run. Owners of certain types of properties often need a certificate of occupancy to legitimize their building and prove that it is in fact up to code and therefore safe to occupy. If you are a property owner or looking to be one soon, make sure you do research on the laws in your area. If it turns out that you need one, take care of this as soon as possible.