Even though getting a certificate of occupancy may seem difficult, the procedure is not as difficult as it may seem. We are here to respond to your most frequent inquiries about the certificate of occupancy and to assist you in making confident next steps.
Depending on where the property is located, the regulations vary significantly, therefore it’s important to verify with your local government to be certain of what to do next. In this post, we’ll explain what a certificate of occupancy is, when owners of short-term rentals need one, and how to apply for one in the biggest U.S. cities.
What is an occupancy certificate?
A certificate of occupancy is useful for many things. It is a certificate that, among other things, certifies that your property is safe for habitation and conforms with all relevant regulations. Additionally, it mentions that the property complies with all local construction regulations. It also specifies if the property is utilized for residential, commercial, retail, or industrial purposes.
For any facility that will house people, a current occupancy certificate is nearly usually required by law. You’ve probably had to deal with the procedure in some way if you’ve ever purchased or sold a property. Understanding the certificate of occupancy and making sure you comply with all rules are crucial for owners of short-term rental properties.
Are certificates of occupancy required for transient housing?
The quick response is yes. Any location where people will dwell, whether temporarily or permanently, certainly requires an occupancy permit (with a few exceptions).
You will encounter it on your path to owning a short-term rental property since a current certificate of occupancy is required to get a vacation rental license. In the majority of American states, it is against the law to rent a property without a lease.
Consider that you are purchasing a home that is already being used as a residence and that you have no plans to make any changes. You might not need to worry about obtaining a new certificate of occupancy in that situation. You will need to locate the previous owner’s certificate even if you don’t need to apply for a new one.
It’s one of those situations, however, when you don’t want any shocks. To make sure you are following rules, you need constantly be informed of the certificate of the occupancy status of your property.
When is it important to get an occupancy certificate?
In a few circumstances, getting a certificate of occupancy will be required. You must apply if any of the following scenarios apply to you.
constructing a new building
Since new construction has never been inhabited before, a certificate of occupancy is usually always required. It may take some time to complete all of the inspections, so you should start planning on getting your certificate as soon as you can. especially if you want your newly constructed short-term vacation rental firm to get off to a fast start.
altering a property’s usage
A new certificate of occupancy is required if you want to alter the use of a property. Changing an office building into a home, as an illustration. Keep in mind that the specifications for each application are often different, so you’ll probably need to make some adjustments to the property to get the certificate. It’s essential to get in touch with the relevant local government organization to find out precisely what is expected of you.
New Property Occupancy Certificate
additions to buildings
A certificate of occupancy is often required when adding any improvements, such as extra rooms, porches, etc. Before granting the certificate, every square foot of a property is thoroughly inspected, and your addition will be held to the same standards. Check the regulations in your region before beginning any improvements to avoid paying penalties for violations
Making any structural alterations that affect fire safety and/or exits
Knowing this is particularly crucial when dealing with fix-and-flip houses. You will need to apply for a new certificate of occupancy if any of the improvements you want to make will alter how you depart the property. This is mostly because of how it affects the building’s fire safety. When making remodeling plans, keep this in mind.
When a property changes owners and/or renters but the usage of the property stays the same, a certificate is not required. Therefore, you probably won’t need a new one if you want to buy a house that is currently classified as a residential property and you don’t plan to make anystructural alterations. To rent the property lawfully, you will need to locate the previous owner’s most recent certificate of occupancy.
What is the consequence of not having an occupancy certificate?
The consequences of not having a valid certificate of occupancy when one is required are not to be taken lightly.
It primarily relies on local legislation. In most cases, if you are caught renting a home without an occupancy certificate, the local government may sue you and/or punish you for each day the certificate was required but was missing. It may severely damage both your financial situation and the course of your company.
You need to have a temporary or permanent certificate of occupancy for the duration of your short-term rental property company, which is issued by the majority of states.
principal prerequisites for obtaining an occupancy certificate
You should always verify with the local authorities for a definitive response since requirements vary based on your location.
A certificate of occupancy is primarily used to prove that a property is secure enough for habitation. This implies that before receiving the certificate, you may anticipate going through a tonne of various inspections, including building, plumbing, and electrical inspections. Because of this, the procedure may take a while; thus, you need to get started right away.
building permit, if necessary
You’ll probably need to show your building permit for any new construction (whether you’re renovating or adding on to an existing structure). A temporary certificate of occupancy (good for 90 days) could be required for fix-and-flip houses while you are still in the flip process but without tenants. Every circumstance is different.
The deed is the official record proving ownership has changed from the seller to the buyer. When requesting the certificate, you’ll probably need to present the deed as proof that you have the property legally in your possession.
Who issues the occupancy certificate?
The local government in your area is responsible for issuing certificates of occupancy. Usually, the housing department has jurisdiction over it. If you’re unsure who is in charge and what the criteria are, a fast internet search for “certificate of occupancy in [your city]” can give you a decent notion.
How to obtain an occupancy certificate in the major American cities:
Depending on where your property is located, the process may look a little different. Check out these summaries of the regulations in the main American cities.
New York City occupancy permit
Both provisional and permanent certifications are issued by the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB). A property may be given a temporary certificate of occupancy, which is good for 90 days, if it is secure but requires further maintenance before it can get a permanent one. The following documentation is required to get a temporary certificate of occupancy in NYC:
- Construction Inspection Temporary Sign-Off
- .Electrical Inspection Temporary Sign-Off
- .Sign-off for Temporary Plumbing
- .Sign-off for Temporary Elevator
A final certificate of occupancy in NYC requires the following papers:
- Construction’s last inspection and approval
- Signed-off final plumbing inspection
- Elevator Sign-Off at the End
- Electrical Final Inspection Approval
- final building inspection
- Final Pavement Plan for Builders (BPP)
- No active applications
- No unresolved offences
- Owner’s Cost Declaration
- A valid Schedule of Occupancy for the build in DOB NOW.
For buildings constructed before 1938, the NYC DOB states that no certificate of occupancy is necessary “so long as their uses, exits, and occupancy levels remain intact.” In such scenario, a Letter of No Objection must be requested. The certificate of occupancy requirements in other cities are quite comparable, but bear in mind that each property is unique and that the only way to know for sure what paperwork is needed is to start the process.
Los Angeles occupancy certificate
The Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety (LADBS) website in Los Angeles accepts applications for certificates of occupancy. You may apply for a temporary and/or final certificate of occupancy, much like in New York City. Unfortunately, LADBS’s public website is not as explicit regarding the certificate of occupancy requirements. They advise getting in touch with the project inspector to find out precisely what you must provide.
a DC occupancy certificate
Applying for a certificate of occupancy in Washington, DC, may be done online at the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) website. The following supporting papers are consistently needed, according to DCRA, regardless of the kind of credentials you are seeking for:
Lease, Deed, and Authorization Letter from Property Owner to Use Building Permit, if necessary
most current occupancy certificate on file
all inspection reports, whether final and preliminary
Particular Inspections Final Statement of the Required Special Inspections
With your application for a temporary certificate of occupancy in DC, you must provide the following documents:
a building plan displaying all currently constructed and future constructions
Plan of the floor displaying the intended usage and egress
Tent structural details (tie-down details)
a letter from the owner of the property outlining the requirements for a temporary certificate of occupancy The letter must provide the temporary document’s floor number, unit number, number of units, and/or regions (e.g., number of parking spaces)
Philadelphia occupancy certificate
On the City of Philadelphia eCLIPSE website, you may apply in person or online. They claim that it typically takes 20 business days to complete applications. The majority of construction permits in Philadelphia are provided upon completion without the need for an additional application. For further details regarding the procedure, go to the City of Philadelphia website.
If your city is not included, why not? Not to worry! It’s not hard to find the criteria for a given city. A fast Google search might be used to check what information is already accessible. How much information an Internet search may turn up could surprise you.
You’ll need to conduct some research since other places are not as clear about the criteria. We advise contacting your local government to learn more about the paperwork and processes needed to receive the occupancy certificate.
Don’t be hesitant to get in touch with any local managers of properties used for short-term rentals and find out what procedure they used. Remember that every property is unique, so although this is a wonderful place to start, you may need to take different or extra measures for your particular home.
Regardless of whether you will be required to apply for a new certificate of occupancy, it is crucial to know your property’s certificate of occupancy history and to make sure you follow all rules. Even while the procedure doesn’t have to be difficult, it needs some planning.
It’s crucial to keep in mind that you cannot rent a home without a current certificate of occupancy. The greatest approach to positioning yourself and your company for success in this area is to be particularly prepared. After all, we want your short-term rental property company to take off quickly!