How to Check for Open Permits and Violations on a NYC Property

Author: Bruce Feffer|March 9, 2022

When purchasing a New York City property, it is imperative to conduct due diligence. An essential step of the process is to determine whether there are any open permits or violations.
How to Check for Open Permits and Violations on a NYC Property

How to Check for Open Permits and Violations on a NYC Property

When purchasing a New York City property, it is imperative to conduct due diligence. An essential step of the process is to determine whether there are any open permits or violations.

When purchasing a New York City property, it is imperative to conduct due diligence. An essential step of the process is to determine whether there are any open permits or violations. That’s because any existing conditions that warrant a violation, or any existing violations issued on the property, will transfer to you along with the property, assuming the transaction is allowed to proceed at all.

Unless the parties to a transaction agree otherwise in their contract, any violations must be remedied, the property must be brought up to code, and all penalties must be paid prior to finalizing the transaction. Additionally, the New York City Department of Buildings won’t issue a new or amended Certificate of Occupancy until all violations have been addressed. Failure to address serious violations may result in difficulty getting financing for building renovations, fines being imposed on the property owner, or other consequences.

Searching for Violations Involving a NYC Property

Because New York City properties can be subject to numerous types of violations, the Buildings Information System (BIS) is a great place to start. Using BIS, you can search for general information on a property in the city including recorded complaints, violations, actions, applications, and inspections. Users can search by block and lot or street address using the system.

The BIS system includes DOB and Environmental Control Board (ECB) complaints/violations. The Environmental Control Board (ECB) is a division of the NYC Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH) that conducts hearings on tickets issued by various City agencies, including the DOB, Department of Sanitation, and New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). DOB violation records generally include information such as the issue date, violation type, and the disposition (whether it has been resolved). OATH/ECB violation summaries may provide additional information, including penalties imposed and balance due.

Violations issued by the other city agencies, such as the Fire Department (FDNY), DOT (Department of Transportation), or a city housing agency, may be more difficult to review, as records are not located in a central database. For instance, FDNY violations can be viewed online via FDNY Business, which requires a user account. 

Searching for Open Permits Involving a NYC Property

The DOB’s BIS system also allows users to search permit application filings. The records include whether the application is for a new building, demolition, or alterations type 1, 2, and 3. Each job type can have multiple work types, such as general construction, boiler, elevator, and plumbing, and each receives a separate permit. The BIS system also includes real-time data regarding the status of the application. Other property information available through the BIS system include zoning documents, certificates of occupancy, and elevator records.

Key Takeaway

Before buying a NYC property, it is important to do your homework. Thanks to technology, it is often possible to learn a lot about a property by simply conducting an online search. Should you discover open violations or permits, an experienced NYC real estate attorney can help you come up with a solution that best protects your legal rights.

If you have questions, please contact us

If you have any questions or if you would like to discuss the matter further, please contact me, Bruce Feffer, or the Scarinci Hollenbeck attorney with whom you work, at 201-896-4100.


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AboutBruce Feffer

Based in New York City, Mr. Feffer has 30+ years of experience representing numerous clients in buying, selling, financing and leasing all types of properties, including condominiums, houses, factories, warehouses, retail space and office buildings.Full Biography

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How to Check for Open Permits and Violations on a NYC Property

How to Check for Open Permits and Violations on a NYC Property
Author: Bruce Feffer

When purchasing a New York City property, it is imperative to conduct due diligence. An essential step of the process is to determine whether there are any open permits or violations. That’s because any existing conditions that warrant a violation, or any existing violations issued on the property, will transfer to you along with the property, assuming the transaction is allowed to proceed at all.

Unless the parties to a transaction agree otherwise in their contract, any violations must be remedied, the property must be brought up to code, and all penalties must be paid prior to finalizing the transaction. Additionally, the New York City Department of Buildings won’t issue a new or amended Certificate of Occupancy until all violations have been addressed. Failure to address serious violations may result in difficulty getting financing for building renovations, fines being imposed on the property owner, or other consequences.

Searching for Violations Involving a NYC Property

Because New York City properties can be subject to numerous types of violations, the Buildings Information System (BIS) is a great place to start. Using BIS, you can search for general information on a property in the city including recorded complaints, violations, actions, applications, and inspections. Users can search by block and lot or street address using the system.

The BIS system includes DOB and Environmental Control Board (ECB) complaints/violations. The Environmental Control Board (ECB) is a division of the NYC Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH) that conducts hearings on tickets issued by various City agencies, including the DOB, Department of Sanitation, and New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). DOB violation records generally include information such as the issue date, violation type, and the disposition (whether it has been resolved). OATH/ECB violation summaries may provide additional information, including penalties imposed and balance due.

Violations issued by the other city agencies, such as the Fire Department (FDNY), DOT (Department of Transportation), or a city housing agency, may be more difficult to review, as records are not located in a central database. For instance, FDNY violations can be viewed online via FDNY Business, which requires a user account. 

Searching for Open Permits Involving a NYC Property

The DOB’s BIS system also allows users to search permit application filings. The records include whether the application is for a new building, demolition, or alterations type 1, 2, and 3. Each job type can have multiple work types, such as general construction, boiler, elevator, and plumbing, and each receives a separate permit. The BIS system also includes real-time data regarding the status of the application. Other property information available through the BIS system include zoning documents, certificates of occupancy, and elevator records.

Key Takeaway

Before buying a NYC property, it is important to do your homework. Thanks to technology, it is often possible to learn a lot about a property by simply conducting an online search. Should you discover open violations or permits, an experienced NYC real estate attorney can help you come up with a solution that best protects your legal rights.

If you have questions, please contact us

If you have any questions or if you would like to discuss the matter further, please contact me, Bruce Feffer, or the Scarinci Hollenbeck attorney with whom you work, at 201-896-4100.