What do I need to know about home occupancy and fire inspections?

Whether you are buying or selling a home, learn more about the municipal inspections that may be required.

If you're in the process of purchasing a home or selling your home, you may have heard your agent talk about Municipal Inspections, Occupancy Inspections, or Fire Inspections. We'll explain here what these terms are & what you need to know about them. 

What are they?

Municipal Inspections are inspections that may be required based on the standards of the municipality the home is located in. These inspections are called Occupancy Inspections, which is an inspection conducted by the municipality to ensure the home is safe to occupy. If the home is in an unincorporated area (meaning there is no municipality), the county will have its own set of requirements regarding occupancy inspections. 

An Occupancy Inspection is conducted by the municipality (or county in unincorporated areas) to determine whether the home is safe to occupy.

Fire Inspections are similar in nature, as they are inspections required to verify that the property is safe to occupy. The main difference being that the Fire District/Department sets the requirements for these inspections.

Similarly, a Fire Inspection is conducted to ensure the property meets fire safety standards and is safe to occupy.

Who is responsible?

These inspections may or may not be required when a home is being sold to another person. Regardless, the sales contract will always indicate what parties are responsible for ordering, paying for, & resolving these inspections. Traditionally, the seller is responsible for these inspections, however in some cases where the buyer may take on this responsibility. 

When an occupancy or fire inspection is ordered, an inspector will visit the property, note any issues with code compliance & deliver a report to the person who ordered the inspection. This report will either list pass or fail.

The outstanding items on this report must be corrected before the home can be occupied. Who resolves them is dependent on who assumed responsibility for this inspection in the sales contract.

If a real estate agent is representing you, they will usually research the requirements & order these inspections on your behalf.

When do they occur?

These inspections must be ordered within the timeframe stated within the contract & resolved before the home can be occupied. If the inspection fails, re-inspections will be conducted until all the flagged code compliance issues are resolved & satisfied. 

What is the purpose of these inspections?

Once a passed occupancy and/or fire inspection is received, the new homeowner will use these documents to apply for an occupancy permit.

The homeowner will require a copy of the passed occupancy and/or fire inspection to occupy the residence. Typically, they will need to apply for a permit with the governing authority who required the inspections (i.e. the municipality, the county, or the fire department), usually along with a fee. 

The homeowner will need to apply for an occupancy permit before they can occupy the home, in cases where occupancy or fire inspections are required.