How to Get a New York Certificate of Occupancy

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In the city of New York, a Certificate of Occupancy is a document issued to describe how a building may be used. A building may be classified for instance as a store, a single-family home, or a two-family home. You may require a Certificate of Occupancy if you are selling or remortgaging your home. Certificates of Occupancy are issued for new buildings or modified for buildings that have been remodeled, or changed classifications.

How to Get a New York Certificate of Occupancy

  • Apply for a copy of a Certificate of Occupancy by visiting your borough office's Buildings Department Customer Service Office when you buy or build your home. You may also log onto the Building Information System at: http://nyc.gov/bis. Go to “Enter BIS,” and type the address of the desired residence. On the Property Profile page, click “View Certificates of Occupancy.” This will enable you to see if your home has a Certificate of Occupancy, or if a Certificate of Occupancy is pending. You can also see what building requirements are necessary in order for the certificate to be issued.

  • Hire contractors to complete the work necessary to bring your house up to code within New York law. You can find the specific work required by reviewing your Certificate of Occupancy application online or at the Customer Service Office of the Buildings Department. Contractors must also submit their construction plans for a new or renovated residence to the Buildings Department for approval.

  • Get a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy (TCO) if you would like to live in your residence. The TCO ensures that the building is safe for people to occupy. While it lasts for only 90 days, a TCO can also give you time to begin the selling or remortgaging process of your home before the issuance of a final Certificate of Occupancy.

  • Obtain a copy of your Certificate of Occupancy. After you have paid fees to the Buildings Department, finished the work required for the Certificate of Occupancy, and all application paperwork is completed, you should be approved for a Certificate of Occupancy.

Tips & Warnings

  • If your home was not a new building when it was purchased, you may not have to apply for a Certificate of Occupancy if the home's classification was not changed. The Buildings Department Customer Service Office will provide you a copy of the Certificate of Occupancy for your home.
  • Buildings built before 1938 don't require a Certificate of Occupancy if their original classification has not changed. Go to the Department of Buildings' borough office to get a Letter of No Objection to prove the building's legal use.
  • If you sell your home under a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy and it expires without renewal, it may make it impossible for the new homeowner to sell or refinance the home.

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