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What is a Certificate of Occupancy and When Do You Need One in New York City- NYC?


A Certificate of Occupancy, also known as a CO, is an official document issued by a local government agency or building department certifying that a building or structure complies with all applicable building codes and regulations and is safe for occupancy. The purpose of the CO is to confirm that the building is suitable for the intended use and that it meets the necessary health and safety standards.


In New York City, as in most other places, you typically need a Certificate of Occupancy in the following situations:

  1. New Construction: When a new building is constructed, a CO is required before it can be legally occupied. This ensures that the structure has been built according to approved plans and complies with all relevant codes.

  2. Change of Use: If there is a change in the use of a building (e.g., from residential to commercial), you may need a new CO to reflect the updated occupancy and ensure that the building meets the necessary requirements for the new use.

  3. Major Renovations or Alterations: Significant renovations or alterations to a building may trigger the need for a new Certificate of Occupancy.

  4. Certain Lease Transactions: In some cases, landlords or property owners may need to provide a valid CO to tenants as part of lease agreements, especially if the tenant's use requires specific certifications or compliance with building codes.

  5. Legalization of Existing Structures: In situations where a property owner wants to legalize an existing structure that was built without the proper permits, obtaining a CO may be part of the legalization process.

It's important to note that the specific requirements and procedures for obtaining a Certificate of Occupancy can vary by jurisdiction. In New York City, the Department of Buildings (DOB) is typically responsible for issuing COs. Property owners or their representatives must submit the necessary documentation and may need to schedule inspections to ensure compliance with building codes. It's advisable to check with the local building department or the DOB in New York City for the most accurate and up-to-date information on CO requirements and processes. If you fall under one of the above categories, let Built Engineers help you through the process of obtaining your CO and getting you through the design of your new business venture!


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