Home Buying in Allentown>Question Details

Upara, Home Buyer in Allentown, PA

CO (Certificate of Occupancy). Permit not there for newly finished basement ?. Seller or Buyer issue.

Asked by Upara, Allentown, PA Thu Jun 25, 2009

I am planning to buy a house in Allentown, PA. I have given the offer and its been accepted by the
seller as well. Its been 3 weeks since we agreed on the price and i initiated an inspection etc. Now, I reliase that the seller does not have a Permit for his finished basement which was done in july 2008. My assumption is that, he may not be able to get one, since his basement doesn't have an emergency exit and hence the upper macungi township won't issue any permits.

In Seller disclosure, the seller answered I don't know for these questions:
1. Have any permits obtained for basement addition?
2. Have any electrical inspections done on the addition part ?

Our closing is scheduled for July 9, 09 and its only another 14 days left. I am thinkin what to do. If i back out, i might loose my deposit inspection appraisal (about $1500). I am planning to have the seller to either give me a Certificate of Occupancy from the Township OR I might terminate the agreement. Please advice..

Help the community by answering this question:


Hi Upara,

I am curious as to who this issue was resolved. I had a home listed in Upper Macungie a few years ago that was in this same situation and since the basement was finished before the township required permits or a CO for resales the buyers determined this was not an issue. I heard a similar story about a home in Bethlehem Twsp. where the basement was obviously finished in the 1960's and when the CO inspection was done the inspector said they needed to provide egress or the basement could not be used for living space. It could be used for storage as it was but not for active living. This seemed to extreme and unenforceable to me.

So how was this resolved and did you buy the house?

Bob Berner ABR, CRS, GRI
Prudential Patt, White Real Estate
Allentown PA
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 7, 2010
Many municipalites do not require a use and occupancy certificate for resale properties. I would first contact the code enforcement officer for the municipality where the home is located. Determine if a U&O certificate is requred and if proper permits and inspections were performed. If not, you and the seller, through your agents, should determine how to remedy the issue.

It is also likely that if proper permits where not acquired, the home improvement probably wasn't re-assessed for taxes. You could be liable for back taxes as well as any code violations if you purchase the home without resolution of these issues.

This is something you probably want to get resolved sooner rather than later..

Hope this helps. Best of luck to you.

Joe Sheehan, ABR, SRES
RE/MAX Professional Realty, Inc.
Exton, PA
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jun 26, 2009
Here in Bucks and Montgomery counties, Certificates of Occupancy are generally required to be done by the seller. You are responsible for the normal inspection, but they are responsible for the CO. Ask your agent who's responsibility it is for a CO up in your area. In fact, I'll get with some contacts and ask them and get back to you.

Terrence Charest, e-Pro
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jun 26, 2009
How much time do you have to reply to inspections? I usually put 15 days after the contract is fully executed....you may not have an out at this point, unless it's part of the contract that all permits are in place.

You should have your agent's broker advise you, or, chances are, he/she may suggest you contact a real estate attorney at this point.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jun 25, 2009
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