Is it Legal Malpractice to Close Without a Certificate of Occupancy in New Construction?

That is the question in a recent lawsuit filed in Rockland County Supreme Court.

Most real estate attorneys would say that closing with out a certificate of occupancy on a newly constructed house is not a good idea, even a departure from accepted standards.

A certificate of occupancy is the legal notice by the municipality that the house is habitable and constructed in accordance with the building permit. Accordingly, when purchasing a residential piece of real property to be occupied as a dwelling, the attorney should recommend a certificate of occupancy. The failure to have a c/o means that occupancy of the premises “illegal,” and the failure to have that document means that any occupancy violates the law.

Although we cannot comment on pending lawsuits, here are the contentions of the parties.