Certificate of Occupancy
What is a Certificate of Occupancy?
A Certificate of Occupancy (CO) is a document issued by the county once a building satisfies the requirements of applicable codes and laws; it means that the building has been inspected and is safe to inhabit. All public buildings, commercial establishments, and residential buildings with four or more units are required to obtain a Certificate of Occupancy from the Fire Marshal's Office before occupying the building. Failure to obtain a Certificate of Occupancy before occupying a building is a violation of Texas Local Government Code 233.064 and may result in penalties.
A new Certificate of Occupancy is required if:
- A new business will be operating in the building / space;
- There is a change in ownership of an existing building or business.
A new Certificate of Occupancy may be issued if:
- Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) requires one to be issued in order to obtain a license.
A new Certificate of Occupancy is not required if:
- You have already applied for a building permit (a Certificate of Occupancy will be issued during the final inspection);
- You are an individual working from a home office;
- You are operating a business from a residence and no employees or customers come to the residence during the course of business.
- You do not require a CO to obtain a license from TDLR.
Public buildings, commercial establishments, and residential buildings with four or more units are required to renew their Certificate of Occupancy on an annual basis. During the renewal process, a fire inspector will be assigned to inspect the building for hazards. Upon passing the inspection, the Certificate of Occupancy will be renewed for a period of one year.
What to Expect
Kaufman County Fire Marshal's Office strives to provide a positive experience to business owners as we work together to mitigate the risk of fire, reduce liability to your business, and ensure the continuity of your business operations. You should expect the fire inspector to find hazards during the initial fire inspection. At the conclusion of the initial inspection, the fire inspector will review and explain any violations that were found, as well as determine a reasonable amount of time to correct those violations. A re-inspection will be scheduled and you will have an opportunity to correct any violations before the second inspection. It is very important to communicate with your inspector and ask questions if you are unsure about how to correct a particular violation. Once you have had sufficient time to correct all violations, the fire inspector will conduct a second inspection. After passing the inspection, your Certificate of Occupancy will be issued. If you fail to correct the violations and the hazards still exist, you will incur a fee for each additional inspection until you are brought into compliance. Our goal is to gain compliance by the time the second inspection occurs. If you know you will not be able to correct a violation before the second inspection occurs, please contact your inspector to reschedule the inspection.