A Letter of No Objection (LNO) is a legal document issued by the Department of Buildings (DOB) in New York, to verify the legal use of any structure built before January 1, 1938.

Notably, before January 1, 1938, the New York Department of Buildings did not require a Certificate of Occupancy to Confirm a property’s legal use. In instances where individuals transacting in real estate have concerns on the legality of the current usage of a building built before 1938, the Department of Buildings (DOB) issues a Letter of No Objection. The letter signifies that the DOB has no objections to the current usage of the building, and that a Certificate of Occupancy is not necessary.


How to obtain a ‘Letter of No Objection.’

Over the past ten years, properties built before 1938 in Upper Manhattan, Harlem, and some areas in Brooklyn have seen a remarkable increase in value. This led to a rise in the issuing of ‘Letter of no objection’ by the Department of Buildings (DOB). The increase prompted the DOB to formalize this process; however, it is still very time consuming and costly.

The average cost of collecting and submitting all the necessary paperwork to the DOB is about $1500.00, and it usually takes about 3-6 months for you to get the LNO certificate. 

The quickest and more practical way to get a ‘Letter of No Objection’ is to hire a building permit expeditor to do it on your behalf.

Why are ‘Letters of No Objection’ Important?

  • Verify the legality of the intended usage of the property:

If you have a building built before January 1, 1938, it is crucial to obtain substantial evidence of the validity of your intended use of the property. Getting a ‘Letter of No Objection’ from the Department of buildings will give you legal confirmation that you can legally use the building in question as intended.

  • Comply with a buyer, insurer or lender’s requirements

Owner of the property may also request for the ‘Letter of No Objection’ from DOB at the behest of a prospective buyer. Moreover, if the owner of the property wants to use it as collateral, the lender might request for the Letter of No Objection. 

In case you intend to insure the property, the insurer may need the ‘Letter of No Objection’ to be able to process the cover.

Bottom line:

It is essential to note that you can get a Letter of No Objection for a property that already has a Certificate of Occupancy.

For instance, let’s say that a property has a certificate of occupancy stating that the property is a two-family residence, but it is currently used as a single-family residence. You can apply for an LNO, in which the DOB will confirm that they do not object to the use of the property as a single-family residence. 

Moreover, if you are planning to change the usage from a two-family residence three-family residence, you are also required by law to submit the new plans to the DOB.

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