May 14, 2015

In Westchester County, New York, many older homes do not have a Certificate of Occupancy.  In other cases, property owners have made improvements without obtaining permits.  Most often these issues can be identified and resolved early in the transaction.

As part of a buyer’s due diligence, you may wish to review the building department records carefully to determine whether there are any open permits, violations, or improvements that may have been constructed without a permit.

A seller may choose to proactively demolish nonconforming improvements or bring certain portions of its property “up to code” before selling to avoid any issues during the buyer’s (or the lender’s) inspection.  Basements and garages converted to living space are common examples of improvements which may or may not require permits depending on the date constructed and jurisdiction.  Some building inspectors may be willing to issue a letter confirming that certain improvements pre-date the zoning code or do not require a permit.

It is important to keep in mind that some Certificates of Occupancy may trigger the need for a variance e.g. if the Certificate of Occupancy would create a nonconformity such as a new dwelling unit in excess of the number of dwelling units permitted as of right on that particular property, or exceeding zoning bulk requirements such as gross floor area/floor area ratio or lot coverage.

If you have any questions about buying or selling a property in New York, please do not hesitate to contact an experienced attorney at (914) 338-8050.  For more information about our firm please visit www.betenskylaw.com.