An occupancy permit or certificate is a permit issued by a municipality stating that a building structure or home is habitable. It governs the use and capacity of the building structure, whether it be residential or commercial. Pittsburgh requires that owners of all structures obtain this permit before allowing people to occupy it. If you plan on renting the property, you are also required to have a housing rental permit, which also is authorized by the Bureau of Building Inspection.
Most buildings have some type of occupancy permit and only require changes made to the existing permit, but if the building or home does not have an existing certificate, you must apply in person at the Bureau of Building Inspection. Prior to soliciting an occupancy certificate, you must get the building structure professionally inspected to make sure it is compliant with all building code regulations. Take the proof of inspection and compliance with you to the Bureau of Building Inspection, as it will require it. If an inspector finds that all life safety requirements are met, you can get a certificate of occupancy within 10 days of your application. But if the building structure doesn’t meet the building code regulations, you must make necessary repairs and get it reinspected to obtain the occupancy permit.
When you rent a property with an existing certificate of occupancy, you must ensure the property meets all the codes specified for the issuing certificate before you rent it. If the property specifies a certain use, amenities, size or a certain number of units, these are the specifications the property must continue to have. It cannot vary or change from this, unless a new certificate is requested.
If you remodel, make changes or additions to the property -- even if these are small changes such as additional fencing, garage additions, decks, swimming pools or extensions -- these require a new occupancy certificate. Any change to the use or the building structure also requires a new certificate of occupancy. But to be approved for the new configuration or use of the property, a new inspection is also required.
Housing Rental Permit
As a Pittsburgh landlord, in addition to the certificate of occupancy, you must also obtain a housing rental permit before you can rent or lease any property. When applying for this permit, you must list the property address information, as well as the lot and block number, which is found on your property tax statements. You also must state the type of rental it is and the number of units on the property. When filling out the application, be sure to give the property administrators name, address and contact information.