We often get questions from commercial tenants after they have signed a lease about a certificate of occupancy. Most leases state it’s the responsibility of the tenant to obtain all necessary permits and follow all local ordinances and building codes.
According to the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs(DCRA), the purpose of the Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) is to ensure that the use of building, structure or land in the conforms to the Zoning Regulations and the provisions of the local building code. In most cases, no person can use a commercial building or structure until a valid C of O has been issued.
While permits, violations, and ownership information on a D.C. commercial property can found online using the property information verification system(PIVS), the Certificate of Occupancy application must be submitted in person at DCRA. DC’s Permit Center is located at 1100 4th Street SW on the Second Floor. We recommend taking the metro although there is paid parking lots nearby. A record request for a C of O can be made online, but the requestor still needs to physically go to DCRA to pick up the document.
For Washington, D.C. commercial tenants will need a copy of their lease and the current C of O for the building. Unfortunately, way too many building owners do not have a certificate of occupancy readily available. If the owner of the property cannot find the C of O , tenants can request a copy of a C of O from DCRA for only $20.00. Requests should be made in person by going to the Records Room (E270) located adjacent to the Permits Center on the 2nd Floor of 1100 4th St SW.