As of January 1, there are changes to the Property Certification filing process with the City of Pittsburgh.
If you or your agency submits more than 10 per year, you must submit entirely online. Applications accepted by mail will be limited to agencies or customers submitting 10 per year or less. Any application beyond the tenth will be returned. Due to the additional staff time necessary to process applications by mail, the City’s projected processing time when mailed will be twenty (20) business days, while Property Certifications filed online will remain at ten (10) business days.
What is a Property Certification?
This application form is used to verify three conditions on the subject property, in accordance with Pennsylvania Act of Assembly #652, approved September 20, 1961:
- Certification of Zoning Classification and Legality of Use
- Certification of City Historic Designation
- Certification of Code Violations and/or Unsafe Conditions
When is a Property Certification required?
A property certification is required whenever there is a real estate closing on a property due to a sale or refinance. (Note: this is the same thing that used to be called the zoning certificate.) It is a document intended for the benefit of a buyer or lender to let them know the zoning district of the property, the legality of use, if there is an occupancy permit on file, if the property is in a local historic district, and if there are any active code violations on file.
Send the completed Property Certification Form to:
Attn: Property Certification
Dept. of Permits, Licenses and Inspections
200 Ross St., Suite 320
Pittsburgh, PA 15219-2014
The application fee is $100 per application due with the application form. Check or money order accepted, payable to Treasurer City of Pittsburgh. Please be sure to follow the directions on the form completely to ensure the most accurate response. The completed certificate will be returned by email. Allow 10 business days for processing.
Who files for Property Certification?
The owner of the subject property or the owner's agent may make an application for a Certificate of Zoning Classification. Typically, the application is used when the property is changing ownership or when the owner is re-financing a mortgage.
What do Current and Proposed Use mean?
The application asks you to list the current and proposed use of the property before and after the real estate transaction. They can be the same if no change in use is proposed. For online applications, you will be required to select a use that best fits from the official Use Classifications within Pittsburgh’s Zoning Code, which are found in Chapter 911.02. Select all uses on the property being certified. For paper applications, applicants are encouraged to use the Zoning Code categories. While there is a category for “vacant”, that is for when a building or property is vacant. There is not an “other” category. If you are unsure about the correct Use Classification you may inquire with Zoning Staff at email@example.com or by calling 412-255-2241.
NOTE: The use classifications found on the Allegheny County website are not the same as the Use Classifications from the Zoning Code. Avoid copying these, particularly if the use listed is a residential use with a range of unit numbers, such as APART: 5-19 UNITS. Instead, describe the use with as closely as possible using Zoning Code terms. For example, instead of “APART: 5-19 UNITS” use "Multi-Unit Residential" and note that there are dwelling units.
Do I need to list the number of units?
On the application form, include the current and proposed number of residential units. While a typical rowhouse is only one residential unit, there are exceptions, and therefore it is important to list the correct numbers so that staff can accurately complete your form.
Can I use the building code classification?
Pittsburgh Zoning Code Use Classifications are different than those in the Building Code. Please use the Zoning Code Classifications.
For example, the use of a building may be an office as defined by the Zoning Code, but may be a business group B in the Building Code. For the Property Certification, please use the Zoning Code Use Classifications.
Common terms to avoid:
- "Mixed use." Instead, list all uses. For example: "office, bank, and restaurant";
- "Commercial use." Instead list the use. For example: "retail."
- "Residential with a range of units." Instead, list the number of units. For example: "Duplex, 2 units".
- Allegheny County use code; or
- Building Code classifications
How will I receive the completed form?
Express Filing. No return envelope needed. Completed Certificates will be returned by email. Make sure that you include an email address on the application form.
Can I use the certificate instead of a certificate of occupancy or a record of zoning approval?
No. the Property Certificate does not certify that these premises are legally occupied or that the structure meets all Zoning Code and Building Code requirements unless a Certificate of Occupancy has been issued for the actual use of the property by the Dept. of Permits, Licenses, and Inspections.
For more information about Property Certifications, email questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 412-255-2241.