Most commerical property owners find the process to get a Certificate of Occupancy frustrating and nearly impossible.
A Certificate of Occupancy is a document issued by a local government agency or building department certifying a commercial building's compliance with applicable codes indicating it to be in a condition suitable for occupancy.
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 residential dwelling converted for commercial use) (Note: Zoning is a different issue)
- occupancy of a commercial building changes, or ownership of a commercial building changes
- an owner wants to do remodel or upgrade their building and they currently are not in possession of a certificate of occupany for their property.
The purpose of obtaining a Certificate of Occupancy is to prove that, according to the law, 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.