Last edited 15 Dec 2020

Certificate of occupancy

In the United States, a certificate of occupancy (also known as a use-and-occupancy certificate) is a document issued by a local government agency or building department to confirm that a building is fit for human occupation.

The procedures involved in the certificates vary according to the jurisdiction and the type of building. The most common situations in which a certificate is required include:

There are several reasons for obtaining a certificate of occupancy, including:

The certificate will not be issued until all inspection requirements have been passed and any fines have been paid in full. Inspections often focus on ensuring that the building complies with fire safety codes, installation of services has been done correctly, and the building is structurally capable of withstanding likely seismic activity, and so on.

A temporary certificate of occupancy may be obtained which provides the same rights as an ordinary certificate but for a fixed period of time, which can vary from 30 to 90 days depending on the jurisdiction that issues it. Once it expires, the building owner can re-apply for another temporary certificate if required, for example, if the building is still undergoing construction work while part has been completed and is capable of being occupied.

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