OCCUPANCY PERMIT: How To Get Residential Occupancy Permit In Different States


An occupancy permit is required for the construction, substantial alteration, change of use, or change in occupancy of portions of buildings or buildings that are not single-family, two-family, or multi-family dwellings with shared exits. In this blog post, we will be looking at what an occupancy permit is, a home permit, a permit checklist, and a residential occupancy permit.

An initial Occupancy Permit confirms that the space is code and other regulations compliant. A subsequent permit, issued for changes in occupants or tenants, helps ensure that the building has been safely maintained and that a new occupant or tenant does not inherit changes made without the necessary permits. Even temporary structures and events, such as weddings under large tents or street parties, necessitate an Occupancy Permit.

Occupancy permits confirm compliance with pre-existing conditions and/or new construction and must be obtainable prior to occupancy. An occupancy permit, as a public document; also informs the public about the terms and nature of the occupancy permit.

What is an Occupancy Permit

An occupancy permit is a document issued by the local zoning or building department stating that a house or property is fit for habitation. However, in order to be suitable, it must be compliant with the local building code. An occupancy permit will also identify what class a building or property falls into or what its use is. A certificate of occupancy may also be referred to as a use-and-occupancy permit, but they are the same thing.

Home Occupancy Permit

If you intend to start a new business or run an existing one entirely from the comfort of your own home, you must adhere to certain standards and policies. Possession of a home occupancy permit is one of the requirements for operating a home-based business.

What does a Home Occupancy Permit entail?

A home occupancy permit enables you to legally establish or carry out limited business operations from the comfort of your own home. Residential use of a home-based business is usually permitted under most city codes; but your processes are not legal until you have a permit in hand from your city.

Commonly Permitted Home Occupancy

While each county’s rules, restrictions, and regulations will differ slightly, most will be broadly similar in terms of home occupancy permits.

The City of Richfield, Minnesota, for example, defines a home occupation; as any gainful occupation or profession compensated in monetary payment or in kind. It goes on to describe home occupations as a transparent ancillary operation of the household; implying that the primary use of the building is for residential purposes.

Some of the more common occupations that you will see frequently permitted include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Architects
  • Artists
  • Authors/Writers
  • Clergymen
  • Dentists
  • Engineers
  • Lawyers
  • Musicians
  • Dentists
  • Engineers
  • Domestic Crafts (cooking, preserving, dressmaking, etc.)
  • Barber/Beauty
  • Real Estate

Many states or counties have their own rules, guidelines, and checklist regarding what is allow and what is not, so it is critical that you research your specific area for your home occupancy permit.

How to Apply for a Home Occupancy Permit

As with everything else, each state, county, or city’s application process will be slightly different. However, the procedure is generally the same:

  • Examine any restrictions that may apply in your residential zone. You may discover right away that you cannot run your specific type of business from your home in your county or town, making the following steps unnecessary.
  • Check with your local authorities, such as the Building Department, the Fire Department, the Zoning Administrator, the City Council, and the Municipal Building Office, to ensure that your home occupation complies with all building, fire, and city codes.
  • Check with your local Sales Tax Division to see if you’ll need a Sales Tax License as well.
  • Submit an application for a local Home Occupancy Permit. As previously stated, you must locate the application for your specific city or county, as each is unique. It may require payment for the application as well.
  • If you have any further questions, contact your local government officials or homeowner association.

After obtaining your home occupation permit, you can start your business from the comfort of your own home.

Occupancy Permit Checklist

In order to issue an occupancy permit checklist, the relevant building surveyor must state that the building is suitable for occupation. As a result, the structure must be both safe and habitable. Any required item that could jeopardize a person’s safety or habitability must be present and fully operational. Occupancy Permit and Building Approval Certificate Certified Application Checklist

How To Get Occupancy Permit

To get an occupancy permit, you must fill out an application checklist and pay a fee to your municipality’s or city’s local zoning or building department. If you are starting from scratch, you may need to obtain a certificate of occupancy before beginning work.

Of course, your local zoning or building department isn’t going to give you a certificate of occupancy just because it’s nice. Rather, your property will need to pass a series of inspections if it’s a new building from scratch. These are some examples:

  • A fire inspection.
  • An electrical inspection 
  • An inspection of the plumbing.
  • A general inspection of the building.

Keep in mind that the aforementioned inspections may occur in shifts. To obtain a certificate of occupancy, for example, you may need a rough plumbing inspection first, followed by a final plumbing inspection.

If, on the other hand, you’re looking for a certificate of occupancy for a house that already has one (because you’re selling it), you might only need one inspection. Another thing to keep in mind is that there is no single standard for issuing a certificate of occupancy. Because each municipality or city has the authority to enact its own laws, the permit inspection process in one area may differ from that in another. Here is an example of an occupancy permit application form: PDF version of the occupancy permit application form

Occupancy Permit for Residential

A residential occupancy permit is require for the following work on a residential building or structure (single-family or two-family dwelling):

  • To certify a new use and/or occupancy for an existing structure or building.
  • Approve the temporary use and/or occupancy of an existing structure or building.

For a definition of an occupancy permit for residential structures, please see Permit Home.

Over-the-counter applications will necessitate the submission of an Occupancy Only Permit Application.

Work Categories:

  • New use: applies to a use and/or occupancy that has not previously been approved, as evidenced by a Certificate of Occupancy.
  • Modification of Existing Certificate: applies to applications that are limited to minor changes that do not affect the structure’s use and/or occupancy, such as Lessee information.
  • Temporary Use: refers to uses that are only for a short period of time (180 days or less).

Permitting Procedures:

The occupancy permit for the residential application procedure consists of the following steps:

  • Submission of an application
  • Permit for application review and issuance
  • Permit inspections lead to permit completion. “

Please see Other Agency Coordination for processes relating to other agencies that may be relevant to the scope of your permit.

Why is the permit important?

An occupancy permit is frequently required to complete the sale of a property. Furthermore, if you’re building a new property, you must, by law, obtain an occupancy permit. If you don’t, you could also be fined for each day work commences on your property or your property is utilized or occupied without having that certificate in place.

However, having an occupancy permit ensures that your home or building is safe, which is necessary in order to attract commercial or residential tenants. After all, why would anyone want to rent from you if you don’t have proof that your building is a safe place to live? Similarly, an occupancy permit is proof that the property has been through an inspection and is up to code in the context of a home sale. As a buyer, having your seller obtain a certificate of occupancy reduces the likelihood of costly surprises after the sale.

What obstacles might you face when applying for an occupancy permit?

If you’re starting from scratch, failing to meet local requirements could result in a no-occupancy permit. Generally, if the property you’re building doesn’t pass an inspection, they will tell you on what items you’ll need to address to adhere to local safety codes. There will be a time frame (the extent of which depends on where you’re building) to correct those issues and request a new inspection.

If you are selling a home, you may be unable to obtain an occupancy permit if certain aspects of your property are out of date and thus not up to code. People who try to sell older homes frequently run into problems with non-compliant wiring, outlets, and piping. Keep in mind that safety codes can change over time. If you bought your house 20 years ago, it might have been up to code at the time, but that doesn’t mean it’s still up to code now. In that case, you’ll have to make whatever changes your inspector requests in order to obtain the occupancy permit.


An occupancy permit is something you often can’t get around. But keep in mind that there’s a reason this important document is require, so rather than complaining about it, figure out what you need to do to get yours and get the ball rolling sooner rather than later.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much is an occupancy permit in PA?

Payment in the amount of $5.00 (via check or money order made payable to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania) is usually required.

What is needed for an occupancy permit in Massachusetts?

The address of the property, your full name, your cell phone number, and the name of the company you work for must all be included in your email. For Certificate of Occupancy Inspections, you must include your Inspectional Services Certificate of Occupancy Application number.

What is the purpose of occupancy permit Philippines?

The purpose of obtaining the permit is to confirm that the house or building is in a suitable living condition based on its compliance with the provisions of the code as well as the submitted plans and specifications.

How much is an occupancy permit in Texas?

Fees for obtaining a Certificate of Occupancy

The initial fee of $25.00 includes one scheduled inspection in which the owner or an agent of the owner is present.

Can you sell a house without a certificate of occupancy in PA?

After your building passes its final inspection, your local building-inspection department will issue you a certificate of occupancy. Also, it is an official declaration that your building is fit for human habitation. If you cannot obtain a certificate, it is illegal to sell the building in many jurisdictions.

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