The Real.Est List
Rent Coach: Renting in a new building that lacks a C of O
Q. I recently applied to rent an apartment in a new building. My application was approved, but the leasing office says the building doesn’t yet have a “C of O.”
Is that a problem?
A. It might be. A “C of O” is a document called a Certificate of Occupancy that is issued by the Department of Buildings (the “DOB”). Without one, a person cannot legally occupy the premises.
Assuming that the landlord is playing by the rules, this could affect your move-in date. If you sign the lease now with the expectation that you can move-in after the C of O is issued, you may need to be prepared to be patient.
Though it’s possible that it could be issued very soon, there is really no way of knowing how quickly it will happen, as the DOB is particularly backlogged right now.
Consider asking the landlord for a contingency clause in your lease that requires they deliver legal possession to you in “x” amount of days so that you’re not stuck with a lease and no place to live.
If on the off-chance the landlord intends to allow you to move in before the C of O is issued, you might have a different kind of problem. As previously stated, no one is legally permitted to live in the building at this time. It is possible that the DOB could evacuate the building and refuse to allow tenants to move back in until the landlord obtains the C of O.
Mike Akerly is a New York City real estate attorney, landlord, and real estate broker. He is also the publisher of the Greenwich Village blog VillageConfidential.
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