Are you building a new home to live in or a new building in which to work? If yes, then you may wonder about the Certificate of Occupancy. A common question that arises is can you move furniture in before receiving a Certificate of Occupancy?
One should never move furniture in before a Certificate of Occupancy is issued, due to safety reasons. Any trace of a homeowner moving into a home on an apartment without the certificate will receive a hefty fine from the local government.
It will also delay the process of the homeowner’s move-in date and getting final approval on your COA. If you’re moving into an apartment building in a co-op and your movers damage the walls, you could face fines from the building’s management company or association.
It can get discouraging and downright depressing to wait, but the reason revolves around safety. All home inspections must pass, and the construction team must show they are finished. Projected move-in dates may be delayed for various reasons, but seldom will the homeowner be allowed to move in earlier.
Table of Contents
- The Definition of a Certificate of Occupancy?
- Who Needs A Certificate of Occupancy?
- Who Issues the Certificate of Occupancy?
- What an Inspector Searches for During an Inspection
- Is It Possible to Sell a House Without a Certificate of Occupancy?
- Eight Things to Address for Renters Concerning the Certificate of Occupancy
- 1. Repair Any Damage, Health, or Safety Issues in the House
- 2. Clean the Property
- 3. Make Sure the Heat, Plumbing, and Electric Works
- 4. Review and Sign the Lease with the Tenant
- 5. Collect the Security Deposit and First Month’s Rent
- 6. Have a Necessary Inspection Completed
- 7. Change the Locks
- 8. Have a Move-in Checklist Handy
The Definition of a Certificate of Occupancy?
A Certificate of Occupancy is a required legal document that states the building you are inhabiting meets all the building codes. Therefore, it is inhabitable to live in or conduct business without it. You should not move any personal items into a building or house before you are issued a Certificate of Occupancy.
Fines received for violations could then ultimately delay getting you a Certificate of Occupancy. If this happens, it could delay the process of moving in from days to weeks.
What Is a Temporary or Provisional Certificate of Occupancy?
The certificates are needed when you are building a home or building. These are certificates that do not refer to your ability to move in. Instead, they give you the ability to go into the building in the final step of the building process.
These are given out near the end of the construction of a building or home. It still does not allow the house to become occupied.
Who Needs A Certificate of Occupancy?
If the building or home is new, then the owner should get a Certificate of Occupancy. Once the build is complete and passes all necessary steps, then the occupants move in.
If a building or home is being sold, the occupancy certificate will traditionally be transferred to the new owner. Before the new owner moves in, the building or home will again be inspected. The new occupants are cleared to move into the space once it passes inspection.
For rental properties, the owner will have the certificate of occupancy. The number of inspections required will depend on your state or city’s local laws. Some places will require that before any new occupants move in, there must be a required inspection. Other places only need an inspection every couple of years.
Listed below are other reasons a person will need a Certificate of Occupancy before occupying a building.
If New Construction Occurs
Should your building or house become newly constructed, you most likely will need to file for a Certificate of Occupancy.
If Property Conversion Takes Place Between Two Parties
If you own a building and are converting its function to act as something else, you are required to get an inspection. You will also need a new Certificate of Occupancy. An example of this could be if a warehouse is converted into residential lofts where people will be living.
Should There Be a Changing of ownership, A Certificate of Occupancy is Required
Suppose a more prominent building, including a multi-family building, apartment building, office building, or industrial property, changes ownership. In that case, you are required to get an inspection to receive a Certificate of Occupancy.
When Major Construction Takes Place A Certificate of Occupancy is Needed
In some cases, if your house or building is going under significant reconstruction, it might change the property’s layout. You might be required to get an inspection and a new Certificate of Occupancy.
Who Issues the Certificate of Occupancy?
Your city’s local government will issue you a Certificate of Occupancy after you apply on their website. Once you apply, an inspector will go to the property and do an inspection. What they look for will decide on the area and the property type.
You should know if the property passes or fails the inspection right after the inspection. If the property passes the inspection, you should receive your Certificate of Occupancy within a couple of business days. If your property fails the inspection, you will be given a list of the things that need to be fixed.
Once those things are fixed, another inspection will take place, and if passed, you will receive your Certificate of Occupancy. Some issues that might cause your property to fail the inspection are elementary to fix, while others might take some time.
What an Inspector Searches for During an Inspection
There is a checklist the inspector will follow. It can be stressful for everyone except the inspector. The rules and regulations are strict based upon previous injuries from other homeowners.
The checklist is as follows for inspectors.
- They will look to see if lead paint is present.
- They will look to see if there are holes in the roof or walls.
- The inspector will make sure the plumbing works like toilets, sinks, outside faucets, etc.
- He or she will make sure the water heater is functioning.
- They will make sure the HVAC works correctly.
- The inspector will also make sure there are no signs of mold.
Is It Possible to Sell a House Without a Certificate of Occupancy?
It is possible to sell a house or property without a Certificate of Occupancy. The only thing that a Certificate of Occupancy does is give you permission to live in the space. Therefore, the Certificate of Occupancy does not have anything to do with the possession or sale of the house.
Houses or properties sold without a Certificate of Occupancy are common in real estate, especially when people buy and flip houses. Sometimes selling a property that doesn’t have a Certificate of Occupancy can be more problematic. They might not pass typical inspections that are conducted before the purchase of a property.
Your insurance may require that you have a Certificate of Occupancy before buying or selling a house.
Eight Things to Address for Renters Concerning the Certificate of Occupancy
The rules for renters are more demanding when it comes to obtaining a Certificate of Occupancy. Below is what rental homeowners must go through with the tenant. Upon completing everything, renters will find it easier with every tenant that comes and goes.
1. Repair Any Damage, Health, or Safety Issues in the House
Damage could include a broken door, a hole in the wall, or maybe a faulty switch. Make sure that these damages are fixed before the new tenant moves in to minimize issues. Health issues deal with checking for signs of mold or lead-based paint.
If there are signs of these things, you might have to hire someone to clean the house. Safety issues include making sure that all the fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are functioning correctly.
2. Clean the Property
A tenant does not want to move into a filthy place. Before the new tenant arrives, we recommend that you have the house cleaned.
3. Make Sure the Heat, Plumbing, and Electric Works
Before the tenants move in, make sure there are no issues with the heating, plumbing, or electric systems. Double-check all the rooms to make sure the heat/air conditioning works. Double-check all bathrooms to make sure the water runs correctly.
Last make sure main outlet areas are working. If you have issues with utilities, call your local plumber or electrician for help in solving the problem.
4. Review and Sign the Lease with the Tenant
The first step in securing a tenant is to have them sign a lease to live in or use the property. It is a binding contract that indicates the tenant will pay and occupy the space for the agreed amount.
5. Collect the Security Deposit and First Month’s Rent
Before the tenant moves in, collect the security deposit and the first month’s rent for living there. The security deposit totals the first two months’ rent. It is used as payment in case there is any damage to the house during the tenant’s lease.
6. Have a Necessary Inspection Completed
It depends on where you stay; you might be required to get an inspection before new tenants move into the property. Check with your cities requirements to make sure to avoid any penalties or fees.
7. Change the Locks
When a tenant leaves the premises, make sure to change all the locks. This will ensure that previous tenants will not be able to enter the property.
8. Have a Move-in Checklist Handy
On the day of the move in you should go to the property and go through the move-in checklist with the new tenant. This checklist should pinpoint specific aspects of the house and how everything works.