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Andrea, Esq.
Andrea, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 12554
Experience:  I have practiced law for 25 yrs. with an emphasis on real estate, business law, criminal defense and family law.
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I am selling the home I bought in 2013. The buyers did a

Customer Question

I am selling the home I bought in 2013. The buyers did a permit search and there are 10 open permits from the early 90s. The town is saying that I am responsible for the permits. They issued a certificate of occupancy when I bought the house. Is it against the law for them to issue a CO with open permits? The permits are for electrical work, extension, pool, etc. Is there a law that says all permits must be closed before issuing a Certificate of Occupancy?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Andrea, Esq. replied 2 years ago.

Good morning and welcome to JustAnswer, Thank you for your question, In order to give you a more complete Answer please be kind enough to give me the following information -

1. Did you buy the house from the individual who owned it at the time that these permits were taken out, or were they issued when a previous owner owned the house ?

2. Do you recall if the Township did an inspection of your house before it issued a Certificate of Occupancy when you bought the house in 2013 ?

3. Is the electrician and any of the contractors to whom the permit were issued in the 90's still around ?

Thank you,


Expert:  Andrea, Esq. replied 2 years ago.

In which New Jersey Township is the house located ?

Thank you,


Customer: replied 2 years ago.
The person that opened the permits lost the house. An investor bought it at sheriff sale and I bought from the investor. The town inspected and issued the CO. All permits were taken out by the owner. The house is in Roselle park in Union county. Thank you
Expert:  Andrea, Esq. replied 2 years ago.

Thank you for your reply and your additional information, I see a message on my screen that says "Enter Contact Information". Did you request a "Live Telephone call" to discuss your question ? Please let me know. I do not want you to think that your request is being ignored, if such a request was submitted, Okay ? :)

In Answer to your concerns, the Town cannot require you to do or complete any work since you neither initiated any work, nor did you request the issuance of any permit for any work to be done. More importantly, no work was done, nor any permits issued while you owned the property in question. But, the most important fact in this entire picture is that the Township issued a Certificate of Occupancy when you purchased the property. Had there been any problem whatsoever, the Township should have had any of the previous owners correct the problems before allowing them to transfer title to the property to anyone. The Township does not have the authority to compel you to correct or finish any work for which a previous owner took out a Permit.

Whether or not it is legal for the Township to issue a Certificate of Occupancy where there exists an open Permit depends on on the nature of the work, the amount of work actually done and the amount of work that is left to be done in order to complete the job that was started. If the work left to be done was very minor so that it does not present a danger to an inhabitant, a Township is permitted to issue a "Conditional Certificate of Occupancy, or a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy so that a purchaser can go to closing where no danger is posed to any inhabitant of the property but in these instances, the Township should follow up with the individual doing the work to see that it is completed so that a final Certificate of Occupancy is issued. If previous owners had work done on the property while they still owned it, but either they or the Township did not follow through to have a final inspection and assure that a Certificate of Occupancy was issued, the Township cannot require you to correct the mistakes of previous owners,

If I have Answered your question, please be kind enough to leave a positive rating so that JustAnswer will give me credit for assisting you,

Kindest Regards,


Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi I did not ask for a phone call :) the work appears to be completed. My question was, is the town in violatiin of any laws having issued a certificate of occupancy with open permits?
Expert:  Andrea, Esq. replied 2 years ago.

Hi, again, And the Answer is "No", the Town is not in violation because, as I said in my Answer, the Township can issue "Conditional Certificates of Occupancy" and "Temporary Certificates of Occupancy" so that the buyer can go to settlement, but this is done only when the incomplete item does not pose a danger or a hazard to anyone in the property.

Please let me know if you have any other questions and I will be glad to Answer.

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Kindest Regards,