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what is a coWhat’s a CO and why should I care?  A CO is what we usually call a Certificate of Occupancy.  While there are different types of COs, everyone calls it a CO.  It’s like the word Kleenex.  When someone asks you if you’d like a Kleenex, it can be any other brand along with Kleenex.

Most people don’t even know a CO exists nor how important it is.  This is why I’m writing about it today..

What’s A CO?

A Certificate of Occupancy, aka CO, is given by the town to the current property owner.  It allows a new occupant to move into the premises.  You can’t sell or lease a residence without it.  Getting one involves passing a town inspection.

CO inspections verify that the dwelling complies with both NJ and town regulations.  New Jersey requires Fire Code and Lead Paint inspections.  Many towns add on their own Building Code Inspection.  Lead Paint Inspections apply to single family, 2-Family and condominium properties built before 1978.

Fire Code Certificate Inspections

The New Jersey Fire Code Inspection involves more than smoke detectors.  Carbon monoxide detectors and 2A: B10 C fire extinguishers must be installed.  Only 10 year sealed battery smoke detectors are allowed unless wired-in.

Both smoke and carbon monoxide detectors must be within 10 feet of bedroom doors (or any space that can be used as such).  Smoke detectors must also be on all floors.  Fire extinguishers go next to the kitchen on an outdoors pathway.  To know precisely how many and where, contact your town.

New Lead Paint Regulations

New Jersey passed new income producing property lead paint inspection requirements as of July 22, 2022.  This applies to residential income producing property built before 1978.  Whether you have a new tenant coming in or not, every income producing property must be inspected within 2 years.  That’s on or before July 21, 2024.  How inspections are done is up to each town.  Here’s a link to download how every town will do this.

You Can Avoid These Problems

Scheduling An Inspection

Please don’t wait until the last minute because scheduling CO inspections can take several weeks.  Additionally some towns assess an extra fee if you’re within 30 days of the sale or lease date.  There’s this too – if you fail the insepction, you need time to fix the issue and reschedule.

What’s An Open Permit & Why Is It A Problem?

When work requires a permit, a final town inspection is needed to close out the permit.  Until the Building Inspector passes the work as correctly completed, your permit remains open.  If the inspection fails, whatever’s wrong has to be fixed and  another inspection scheduled.

Here’s a key point:  You can not schedule a CO inspection if there are any open permits.  A good listing agent checks for open permits when taking the listing.  Unfortunately some don’t and, as a result, last minute delays happen.  That’s where I come in – I wait for the inspector because my sellers are working and can’t.

Open Permits are common.  That’s because everyone thinks the contractor takes care of this.  They don’t because they can’t afford to wait sometimes 3-4 hours for the inspector.

What’s A CO?

I hope this has answered “What’s a CO?” for you.  Call or email me if you have questions or need something else ( & 201-741-8490).  By the way, if you have battery operated units, get rid of them and install the 10 year sealed battery units.  That’s what I did with an alert 9.5 years later to get replacements.

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