City of Buffalo, NY
Erie County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Derived from Art. IV of Ch. XI of the Charter and Ordinances, 1974, of the City of Buffalo. Amendments noted where applicable.]
GENERAL REFERENCES
Building construction and demolition; fire prevention — See Ch. 103.
Flood damage prevention — See Ch. 189.
Housing standards — See Ch. 242.
Inspections — See Ch. 249.
Lodging houses — See Ch. 269.
Multiple housing — See Ch. 281.
Property maintenance — See Ch. 341.
Sanitation — See Ch. 378.
Subdivision of land — See Ch. 421.
Zoning — See Ch. 511.
A. 
No building hereafter erected shall be used or occupied in whole or in part until a certificate of occupancy shall have been issued by the Commissioner.
B. 
No building hereafter enlarged, extended or altered shall be occupied unless a certificate of occupancy shall have been issued by the Commissioner. This provision shall not apply to enlargements or extensions of one- and two-family dwellings where the original floor area is not increased by more than 25%.
C. 
No change shall be made in the nature of the occupancy or use of an existing building unless a certificate of occupancy authorizing such a change shall have been issued.
A. 
An application for a certificate of occupancy shall be made by the owner or his agent on forms provided by the Commissioner.
B. 
The Commissioner may require the applicant to submit the following information prior to issuing a certificate of occupancy:
(1) 
A survey of the land and buildings under the seal and signature of a surveyor authorized to practice in New York State.
(2) 
As-built drawings of the building or structure if there have been any deviations from the original approved plan.
(3) 
An affidavit of a registered architect or licensed professional engineer of record stating that the deponent has examined the approved plans of the structure and has examined the construction of the structure for which a certificate of occupancy is sought and that, to the best of his knowledge and belief, the structure has been erected and/or altered or remodeled substantially in accordance with the approved plans and, as erected and/or altered or remodeled, complies with the requirements of this chapter; Chapter 103, Articles II and III; Chapter III, Article I; Chapter 113; Chapter 129; Chapter 165, Article IV; Chapter 186; Chapter 263, Article III; and Chapter 326, Article II, except insofar as variations therefrom have been legally authorized. Such variations shall be specified in this affidavit.
(4) 
Any additional documents that may be required by the Commissioner because of a particular situation or circumstance.
(5) 
Property owners must certify that they are aware their property may contain lead; that they are aware of federal disclosure requirements concerning property that may contain lead and have complied with federal disclosure requirements; and that they are familiar with the use of safe lead methods during painting, renovation or repair of their property. Said certification will be made available for completion on the City of Buffalo webpage and in the Department of Permit and Inspection Services at City Hall.
[Added 10-18-2016]
C. 
Any one or more of the above steps may be modified or waived by the Commissioner if he finds that they are impractical or unnecessary due to a change in any applicable code, ordinance, rule or regulation.
A. 
When, after final inspection, it is found that the proposed work has been completed in accordance with the applicable ordinances, rules and regulations and also in accordance with the application, approved plans and specifications filed in connection with the issuance of a building permit, the Commissioner shall issue a certificate of occupancy upon the form provided by him.
B. 
If it is found that the proposed work has not been properly completed, the Commissioner shall not issue a certificate of occupancy and shall order the work to be completed in conformity with the building permit and/or plumbing permit and in conformity with the applicable ordinances, rules and regulations and/or the approved plans.
C. 
The Commissioner shall act to issue or deny an application for a certificate of occupancy within 30 days after written application therefor is made if all work has been completed and final inspections can be made.
D. 
The certificate of occupancy shall certify that the work has been completed and that the proposed use and occupancy is in conformity with the provisions of the applicable ordinances, rules and regulations and shall specify the use or uses and the extent thereof to which the building or structure or its several parts may be put.
E. 
Upon request, the Commissioner may issue a conditional certificate of occupancy for a building or structure before the entire work covered by the building permit has been completed, provided that any completed portion or portions may be occupied safely without endangering life or the public health or welfare. The conditional certificate of occupancy shall remain in effect for the period of time stated in the condition, which period of time may be extended by the Commissioner for good cause.
F. 
No certificate of occupancy shall be issued to any property having known lead-based paint violations or hazards that have not been remediated. Remediation is complete when a licensed lead inspector provides a letter of compliance for the property, or when a licensed lead risk assessor provides a one-year letter of interim control for the property. Letters of interim control are valid for one year and may be renewed only once. In addition, the Commissioner of the Department of Permit and Inspection Services, or his designee, may determine that a lead-based paint violation is in compliance. The Department of Permit and Inspection Services reserves the right to request a third-party verification of compliance.
[Added 10-18-2016]
Except as otherwise provided by law, a certificate of occupancy issued through error of fact or law shall not be valid.
A. 
There shall be a separate fee charged for each certificate of occupancy or conditional certificate of occupancy or renewal of a certificate of occupancy.
(1) 
New or altered structures.
(a) 
There is no fee for a certificate of occupancy for a new or altered structure for which a building permit is required and has been issued, unless a conditional certificate of occupancy is requested.
(b) 
The fee for a conditional certificate of occupancy for a new or altered structure shall be as provided in Chapter 175, Fees.
(2) 
Existing structures.
(a) 
The fee for a certificate of occupancy for an existing structure shall be as provided in Chapter 175, Fees.
(b) 
Gross floor area used to calculate the fee for nonresidential occupancy shall be based on exterior building dimensions to the nearest foot.
(c) 
For a structure occupied in part for residential use and in part for nonresidential use, a fee as provided in Chapter 175, Fees, shall be added to the fee calculated for the nonresidential portion of the structure.
B. 
The fee for a conditional certificate of occupancy for an existing structure shall be as provided in Chapter 175, Fees.
C. 
The fee to renew a certificate of occupancy or a conditional certificate of occupancy shall be as provided in Chapter 175, Fees.
A. 
Original registration of multiple housing. Every owner or lessee of multiple housing and every agent or other person owning or having control of such a dwelling shall register in the Department a sworn statement containing his name, address and a description of the premises, by street number or otherwise, and the class and kind of the dwelling thereon in such manner as will enable the Department to find the same and also the number of apartments and rooms in each apartment on each story and the number of families or persons occupying the apartment or rooms. If such owner or lessee is a corporation, the names and residence and business addresses of its officers shall also be contained in such statement. A similar statement shall be filed within 30 days following an election of any new officer or a change of address of any such officer. There shall be filed with the Department at the time of registration of all multiple housing a survey or copy thereof showing present locations and dimensions of all buildings or structures on the lot thereof. A "registration," intended by the requirements of this section, means a single registration made by any of the parties defined herein. Where such registration is made by a person other than the person having title to the freehold of the premises, such registration shall be approved by the titleholder in writing and shall include the names, residence and business addresses of the owner. If owner is a corporation, it shall also include the names and residence and business addresses of its officers.
B. 
Display of certificate. The enforcing agency, upon the registration required under Subsection A of this section, shall issue a certificate certifying that the owner, lessee or agent has complied with the requirements of Subsection A of this section. Said certificate shall be posted in a conspicuous public area, visible and readable to all tenants of such dwelling, and shall contain a statement in bold print at or near the bottom thereof to the effect that no rent is due for the occupation of any room, apartment, flat or premises unless the present owner or person in control or agent has filed with the City a statement containing his name, address and other information required by Subsection A of this section within 30 days following his acquisition of ownership, leasehold or agency. A fee as provided in Chapter 175, Fees, shall be collected for each such certificate.
C. 
Designation of agents. Every owner of multiple housing shall also register with the Department, within the applicable period of time prescribed in this section, a sworn statement containing the following information: the name and residence and business address of a natural person, 21 years of age or over, who is regularly present at an office or place of employment in the City or who resides within the County of Erie and who shall be designated by such owner as a managing agent in control of and responsible for the maintenance and operation of such dwelling in accordance with the provisions of this section and applicable City and state laws. There shall be endorsed upon such statement a written consent to such managing agent. An owner who is a natural person and who meets the requirements of this subsection as to the location of the residence or place of transacting business or employment as a managing agent may designate himself as such managing agent. Nothing contained in this section shall be construed as preventing a corporation which is an owner of any multiple housing from designating as its managing agent with respect thereto any officer of such corporation who meets the requirements of this subsection as to the location of the residence or place of transacting business as a managing agent. Any designation as managing agent made pursuant to the provisions of this section shall remain in full force and effect until changed or terminated in the manner as prescribed in Subsection E. The designation of a managing agent shall not relieve any such owner of any responsibility or obligation as to compliance with the provisions of this section and applicable City and state laws.
D. 
Reregistration. Where, after the filing of any registration statement pursuant to this section, the ownership, control or lease of any multiple housing so registered shall have changed, whether by act of the parties or by process or operation of law, the new owner, lessee or other person having control shall file with the Department within 30 days after such event a written registration statement which shall contain the particulars described in this section. If any successor in interest is under the age of 21 years, his duly appointed guardian or, if there is no guardian, his administrator shall comply with this section in his behalf.
E. 
Registration or termination of agency.
(1) 
Any designation of a managing agent made pursuant to the applicable provisions of this section shall cease to be effective if such agent shall:
(a) 
Die or be judicially declared incompetent.
(b) 
Cease to meet the resident requirements or to be regularly present in the City.
(c) 
Quit or resign as managing agent without informing the Department, in which event the owner shall file a new designation for a managing agent pursuant to this section within 30 days after knowledge of such quitting or resignation or disqualification.
(2) 
Any such designation may be terminated by either of the following methods:
(a) 
Any such agent may terminate his status as such by filing with the Department, with proof of service by affidavit, a written notice of such termination signed by such agent, which shall state the date upon which it shall become effective, the name and address of such owner and the address of such dwelling. Such notice may be served by delivery of a copy to the owner personally or, if the owner is a corporation, by delivery of a copy to any officer thereof personally or by delivery of a copy to any person of suitable age and discretion at the residence or business address of the owner set forth in the currently effective registration statement filed with the Department pursuant to the applicable provisions of this section or by transmitting a copy of such notice by registered mail to the owner at the residence or business address of such owner set forth in such statement. Such notice shall not be valid or effective unless served on the owner at least five days before its effective date, if served personally or by delivery to a person of suitable age and discretion, or at least eight days before such date, if served by registered mail, and unless filed with the Department, with proof of service by affidavit at least five days before such date.
(b) 
An owner may terminate such designation by filing with the Department a written designation of a new managing agent.
F. 
Penalty for offenses. If there is any violation of this section with respect to any such multiple housing while it is occupied in whole or in part for human habitation, no rent shall be recovered for such multiple housing for any period during which any such violation exists; and in any action or proceeding to collect rent owing for any period during which any such violation exists or to recover possession of the premises for nonpayment of such rent, proof of violation of any of the provisions of this section shall be an absolute defense to such action or proceeding.
G. 
Time for compliance. Every owner or lessee of any existing multiple housing and every agent or other person owning or having control of such housing shall file the aforesaid registration statement on or before November 1, 1965.
H. 
Exemptions.
(1) 
All housing previously registered in full compliance with all the provisions of the Multiple Dwelling Law shall be exempt from the provisions of this section requiring original registration of multiple dwellings, except additional information required to comply with this section shall be supplied. All buildings shall comply with Subsection B of this section.
(2) 
The Executive Director of the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority and/or his successor in office shall be deemed the agent for the owner of all public housing administered by the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority in the City of Buffalo. The Executive Director shall be the agent for the Authority to register all of the aforesaid housing not heretofore registered under the provisions of the Multiple Dwelling Law.
(3) 
The Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority shall not be required to reregister as provided in Subsections A and D of this section.
A certificate of occupancy may be revoked for any of the following reasons:
A. 
If the certificate was issued in error.
B. 
If the certificate was not issued in accordance with applicable laws, ordinances, codes or regulations.
C. 
If any applicable law, ordinance, code or regulation has not been complied with.
D. 
If the conditions upon which the certificate was issued are not fulfilled.
E. 
If violations of laws, ordinances, codes or regulations are not corrected with the time period specified in any notice of such violation.
F. 
If the structure, its occupancy or its use is changed or altered without the required permits or approvals.
Certificates of occupancy may be revoked in accordance with the following procedures:
A. 
A written notice of intention to revoke shall be issued to the owner or agent of the structure for which the certificate was issued, specifying the reason(s) for such revocation. Such notice shall be served by certified mail, return receipt requested, addressed to the owner or agent at his last known place of residence as shown by the records of the Department of Permit and Inspection Services, Department of Assessment and Taxation or Division of the Treasury.
[Amended 2-5-2002, effective 2-14-2002]
B. 
In the event that a receipt for the notice is not returned to the Department, a second notice shall be served on the owner or agent in the manner provided in the Civil Practice Law and Rules for service of a summons in a civil action.
C. 
The notice(s) aforementioned shall also contain the time and place at which a hearing will be granted before the Commissioner or his designee, at which time the owner or agent shall be afforded the opportunity to present testimony and evidence regarding the particulars contained in the aforementioned notice. The time of said hearing shall be specified on a date no sooner than five days after service of the notice and no later than the 10th day after service thereof.
D. 
If the owner or agent appears at said hearing before the Commissioner, the Commissioner shall thereafter make a further determination which shall:
(1) 
Affirm his intention to revoke the certificate of occupancy.
(2) 
Modify the specifications of this original intention to revoke the certificate of occupancy; or
(3) 
Vacate the original notice.
E. 
The Commissioner or his designee shall notify all parties who appeared at the hearing, and the agency or owner of the subject property of his final determination within three days after the hearing in the manner specified in Subsection A hereof.
F. 
If the determination is to revoke the certificate, such revocation shall be effective upon service of the final notice of revocation.
[Added 6-22-1993, effective 7-6-1993; amended 9-19-2000, effective 9-29-2000; 2-5-2002, effective 2-14-2002]
A. 
General. A certificate of occupancy required for a multiple dwelling, pursuant to Chapter 129 of this Code and/or other applicable laws and ordinances, issued prior to, on, or after the effective date of this section, shall be renewed every five years after the date of its issuance, unless sooner revoked pursuant to § 129-8.
B. 
Certificate of occupancy issued prior to November 1, 1990. Within 120 days after the effective date of this section, the owner of a multiple dwelling issued a certificate of occupancy prior to November 1, 1990, shall file an application for a certificate pursuant to § 129-2. The Commissioner shall issue or deny a certificate of occupancy pursuant to § 129-3 within a reasonable time after final inspection. The prior issued certificate of occupancy shall remain valid pending the Commissioner's determination.
C. 
Conditional certificate of occupancy. In order to fulfill the requirements of this section, the Commissioner may issue a conditional certificate of occupancy pursuant to § 129-3E.
D. 
Fees. There shall be a fee as provided in § 129-5 for any certificate of occupancy required under this section.
E. 
Exemption. The provisions of this section shall not apply to owner occupied dwellings with two units or less.
F. 
If at any time before, during or after the application or inspection process, the owner refuses entry to any portion of a multiple dwelling, the Commissioner is authorized to apply for an administrative search warrant to fulfill the requirements of this chapter. In the event of such a refusal, the owner shall not be penalized in any way and shall not be compelled or coerced in any manner to submit to a warrantless inspection. An issued certificate of occupancy shall remain valid despite the owner's refusal to permit entry.[1]
[1]
Editor's Note: Former § 129-10, Nontransferability, added 6-22-1993, effective 7-6-1993, which immediately followed this section, was repealed 2-5-2002, effective 2-14-2002.
G. 
Lead-based paint violations are subject to fines pursuant to § 137-7, Schedule of fines and penalties. In addition, upon testing of paint in the property, any owner found to have a property with existing lead-based paint violations must remediate the violation. Remediation is complete when a licensed lead inspector provides a letter of compliance for the property or when a licensed lead risk assessor provides a one-year letter of interim control for the property. Letters of interim control are valid for one year and may be renewed only once. In addition, the Commissioner of the Department of Permit and Inspection Services, or his designee, may determine that a lead-based paint violation is in compliance. The Department of Permit and Inspection Services reserves the right to request a third-party verification of compliance. Failure to remediate the violation in the time allotted by the Department of Permit and Inspection Services may result in the revocation of the property's certificate of occupancy.
[Added 10-18-2016]