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Important Information & Code Compliance updates

The City's Judicial Warrant for Inspections Law is upheld:

A Judicial Warrant for Inspection of Premises may be applied in accordance with §1-21 of the City Charter. Most often, applications for such warrants are requested when a Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) has been applied for yet access to conduct the required inspection has been denied.  Less than 1/10 of 1 percent of property owners deny consent for their C of O inspection.  On Friday, December 23, 2011, the Appellate Division, Fourth Department, upheld the City's inspection Warrant Local Law against challenges brought by local homeowners and tenants.  We are hopeful that this decision will foreclose similar challenges in the lower courts and allow the warrants to be granted routinely in City Court.  As far as we know, we are the first municipality in New York to adopt inspection warrant standards, and we would expect others to follow suit.  This decision reinforces the city's ability to require inspections as part of our renewable C of O process.

Lead-Based Paint Poisoning Prevention Ordinance - May 2013 Code Amendment Summary:

On May 14, 2013, Rochester's City Council approved amendments to the Lead-Based Paint Poisoning Prevention Ordinance.  These changes are the result of an ongoing assessment of the efficiency and effectiveness of the ordinance. After administering the lead ordinance for the past seven years and in response to recent litigation in the State Supreme Court, we have identified several areas where the ordinance can be enhanced and strengthened to provide better protection of the public and more clarity for our customers.  One of the areas in need of improvement is in clarifying the expectations of the ordinance for all homeowners and third-party lead clearance providers.  Currently, there is much confusion due to the connection to EPA regulations and the fact that this ordinance has more restrictive requirements.  These changes will accomplish the following:

  • Amending the definitions of Dwelling Unit & Visual Assessment - This will provide clarity for all customers to understand what areas within a structure are considered to be part of the dwelling unit for the purposes of performing the full visual assessment that's required as part of lead clearance testing.
  •  Adding the additional EPA authorized titles for dust wipe testing - The following titles are authorized by EPA to perform lead dust wipe testing yet are not currently listed or defined in the ordinance. As such, they should be added to the ordinance:
    • Certified Lead Dust Wipe Technician
    • Lead Sampling Technician
  •  Addition of the EPA Renovation, Repair & Painting Rule (RRP) - Before these amendments there was no reference to RRP in the ordinance. We are requiring contractors and owners who either apply for an applicable building permit or who remediate qualifying lead hazards to report that they are properly certified by EPA to do so.  Adding the RRP language to both the definitions and §90-58 will ensure that they have been properly trained to perform that work in a lead-safe manner.
  •  Amending §90-56 to clarify the remedies for abating lead violations by: 
  • Removing the dependency on EPA for clearance standards to be self-contained in §90-57 of the ordinance.
  • Removing the Certification by RHA which has not been used once in the seven years of the ordinance and due to the fact that we have eliminated the overlap between our C of O and the Section 8 inspection processes.
  • Removing the need for a third party lead clearance for interior deteriorated paint violations that are found in common areas. These will be visually cleared by the city inspection staff similar to the way we clear the exterior deteriorated paint violations.
  •  Amending §90-57 to establish all of the changes listed below. These are especially important as they deal directly with issues raised by court due to the complex discrepancies between the expectations of the ordinance and the EPA standards.
  • Codify the city's clearance standard and lead dust wipe testing requirements within the ordinance and without dependency on EPA.
  • Codify the following items that currently are only a matter of practice as per our internal policy:
    • The validation period for previously passed wipes test is 3 years;
    • Establishing the authority for performing audits of third-party lead clearance providers;
    • Establishing due process requirements for third-party clearance providers who are found to be non-compliant with the expected clearance standards. 

Click here for the AREA MAP  


Certificate of Occupancy - May 2013 Code Amendment Summary:

On May 14, 2013, Rochester's City Council approved amendments to the Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) legislation. These changes are the result of an ongoing assessment of the efficiency and effectiveness of the C of O program. The following amendments are in response to recent litigation and suggestion by the State Supreme Court and in response to the past six years of lead hazard violation data.  These changes will accomplish the following:

  • Clarifying that occupying an applicable property without a valid C of O is a violation;
  • Clarify the need to apply for and obtain a C of O within 90 days prior to the expiration or termination of the current one as part of the renewal process;
  • Clarify the right to seek an Inspection Warrant regardless of whether or not a required application has been received, where it is constitutionally required;
  • Clarify the enforcement remedies available when a required C of O is not obtained;
  • Require one and two-family dwellings located in the 'high-risk' area where interior deteriorated paint violations are identified and corrected by application of Interim Controls, as defined in the Lead Ordinance, to have their C of O renewed after three years. This section applies to any such C of O issued on or after January 1, 2014.

 Access to the Certificate of Occupancy Requirement Chart  

On May 14, 2013, City Council approved code amendments to the Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) legislation and the Lead-Based Paint Primary Prevention ordinance.  These changes go into effect on June 1, 2013.  The following questions and answers are based on these changes and are intended to provide clarity and guidance to our customers.

Frequently Asked Questions Related to C of O Changes  

Frequently Asked Questions Related to Lead Ordinance Changes

The city amends its Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) legislation to eliminate the overlap with RHA's Section 8 Program:

The following changes to Section §90-16 of the City Code, titled 'Certificates of Occupancy' became effective September 1, 2012:


  • The following properties are exempt from the renewable C of O requirement without the need to apply for the exemption:
    • 1 or 2 family dwellings owned by the Rochester Housing Authority
    • 1 or 2 family dwellings occupied by the owner
  • The following properties can apply for an exemption.  Once approved, the exemption must be renewed every 3 years:
    • 1 or 2 family dwellings occupied in whole or part by the owner's parent, child, spouse, or sibling


Units in 1 or 2 family dwellings that are occupied by an RHA Section 8 tenant can apply for a waiver from the interior portion of the inspection of that unit during the renewable C of O process.  To qualify for the waiver, you must meet the following criteria:

  • The property must be a one or 2 family dwelling.
  • The necessary C of O application must be submitted and applicable fees paid.
  • An inspection must be conducted of the exterior and any portion of the interior not occupied by the Section 8 tenant.
  • A Waiver application must be submitted along with the required RHA inspection report indicating that the unit passed an inspection within one year of that date and did not contain deteriorated interior paint.  Please note that an application for a waiver will not be accepted unless it includes the required RHA report. 

 Click here for the Certificate of Occupancy Exemption Application      

 Click here for the Certificate of Occupancy Waiver Application (RHA Section 8)