Certificate of Occupancy


A Certificate of Occupancy is the key document used to certify the legal use and occupancy of a building. The Certificate describes how a building may be occupied, for example, a two-family home, a parking lot, a 40-unit multiple dwelling, or a store. A Certificate of Occupancy is often required when selling a home or refinancing a mortgage.


Owners must obtain a new or amended Certificate of Occupancy for new buildings or where construction changes the use, egress, or occupancy to an existing building before the building may be legally occupied.


Certificate of Occupancy Issuance

The Certificate of Occupancy is issued after all paperwork is completed, all necessary approvals have been obtained from other appropriate City agencies, all fees owed to the Department are paid, and all relevant violations are resolved.


Checking a Property’s CO

Using the Project’s Job/CO Number:
1.Use the Buildings Information System (BIS)  and click the center button to enter BIS.
2.At the “Buildings Information Search” screen, click the “Applications link.”
3.At the “C.O. Application Number” section, type in the project’s job (same as the CO number) and click “Go.” The “C/O Application Summary Inquiry Screen” will show the status of the application.
4.Click on “All Requirements and All Objections” for information on items or issues to be resolved.


Using the Property Address:
1.Use BIS and select the borough and type in the address.
2.Click on “View Certificates of Occupancy” to view an existing CO. For pending COs, click on “Jobs/Filings” near the bottom of the page.
3.Once you find the pending job you’re interested in, click the link. The “Application Details” page will appear. Use the “C/O Summary” and “C/O Preview” links for information.


Getting a Copy of a CO

You can print a copy of a building’s CO from any computer. Use the Buildings Information System to look up the property. In the building’s profile, the “View Certificates of Occupancy” link will display the CO. You can also obtain a copy of a Certificate of Occupancy from the Department’s Customer Service Counter in your borough office.


Proof of a Building’s Legal Use Without a CO

Buildings built before 1938 aren’t required to have a Certificate of Occupancy – unless later alterations changed its use, egress or occupancy. If you require proof of a building’s legal use – and it’s exempt from the CO requirement – contact the Department’s borough office where the property is located to request a Letter of No Objection.


Temporary CO

Owners must make sure a building or unit has a Certificate of Occupancy. In some circumstances, the Department may determine that a property is safe to occupy, but there are outstanding issues requiring final approval. A Temporary Certificate of Occupancy – or TCO – indicates that the property is safe for occupancy, but it has an expiration date. TCOs typically expire 90 days after they are issued.


Owners Tips

The Department strongly recommends that you negotiate a closing based on a final Certificate of Occupancy, not a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy.

If you purchase a co-op, condo or house that has a TCO, consult with a New York State licensed Professional Engineer or Registered Architect to determine what work has to be done, and any outstanding issues in order for the building to receive a final CO.

Once you purchase a property, you, as the owner, have the legal obligation to make sure that the building obtains a final CO documenting its compliance with the Building Code and the Zoning Resolution. Because this is your responsibility, you should ask your attorney to obtain written assurance and sufficient escrow from the seller/developer to ensure that the developer actually finishes any outstanding work and obtains the final CO in a timely manner.

Note: When a TCO expires and is not renewed, it may be difficult or impossible to buy insurance or sell or refinance the property.


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