October 15, 2019
8:35 PM

Inspections Department  
Frequently Asked Questions  

Page Navigation

Note: No one can be required to exceed the requirements of the General Revised Ordinances of the City of Trenton, Uniform Construction Code of the State of New Jersey, National Electrical Code, BOCA Building Code, National Plumbing Code or Uniform Fire Code of the State of New Jersey.

   Building Inspections
      - Am I exempted because I’ve had a DCA inspection?
      - How does one obtain a historical permit?
      - How long does it take for plan review to be completed?
      - How many sets of architectural plans must be submitted for compliance with the building code?
      - I am a tenant. Can I schedule the inspection or do I need to have the owner of the property call?
      - I am the owner of the property but I currently live there. Do I still need an inspection?
      - I have a question not listed on this list. Who can I call?
      - My property is unoccupied. Do I still need an inspection?
      - What building tasks require permits?
      - What happens if any plan is denied?
      - Where can I read the City Ordinances?
      - Why do I need the inspection?
      - Will I need to get heater and chimney certifications?
 
   Electrical Inspections
      - How does one arrange a reintroduction of service?
      - What electrical tasks require permits?
 
   Elevator Inspections
      - Who handles elevator permits?
 
   Fire Inspections
      - What fire tasks require permits?
 
   Fire Safety
      - What events or activities require a fire safety permit?
 
   Housing Inspections
      - Can a citizen request a copy of his or her case?
      - How can one find out the status of a case?
      - How long should a complainant wait to call the inspector?
      - How many people can live in a property?
      - How should one address a housing problem?
      - What are the penalties associated with violating city housing codes?
      - What happens if a court appearance is not made when required?
 
   Inspections
      - How does one set up an appointment?
 
   Plumbing Inspections
      - How does one test piping (gas, drainage, water)?
      - What is the minimum depth for water and sewer connections?
      - What is the standard temperature for hot water?
      - What plumbing tasks requires a permit?
      - What tasks require backflow preventers?
 
   Property Transfer- Housing Inspections
      - Can the buyer of a property complete an application for a Certificate of Housing Code Compliance?
      - How does one obtain a Residential Certificate of Housing Code Compliance?
      - How long is the Certificate of Housing Code Compliance valid?
      - Is it possible to fax the application to the Department of Inspections?
      - Must a commercial property be inspected prior to the transfer of ownership?
      - What is the requirement for transferring ownership of a property?
 
   Rental Property- Housing Inspections
      - Are tenants responsible for providing their own Smoke Detectors or Carbon Monoxide Detector in rental properties?
      - Before moving into a rental property, should an inspection be completed?
      - How does one license a rental property?
      - How is a landlord notified that there is a violation?
      - Must a landlord be licensed in order to rent a property?
      - What are a tenant’s responsibilities?
      - What happens if a landlord does not do the required work ?
      - What should one expect to find when moving into a rental unit?
      - Who is responsible for heat and utilities?
 
   Weights and Measures
      - How can one tell if a scale has been approved?
      - How does the City ensure that citizens receive their money’s worth when buying items like meat, milk and gasoline?
      - What are the consequences of using an incorrect scale in a business establishment (as a means to charge consumers)?
 
   Zoning
      - How does one obtain a business license?
      - What zoning task(s) require permits?
 


    Building Inspections
          Am I exempted because I’ve had a DCA inspection?

No, you still must have an inspection with our office. Please call 609-989-3562 to schedule a visit from an inspector for a mutually convenient time.



          How does one obtain a historical permit?

A historical permit application can be obtained at the Department of Inspections, located on the second floor of City Hall. This permit allows you to paint the exterior of a home in approved historical colors. The colors and the fixtures must remain the same.



          How long does it take for plan review to be completed?

If there are no zoning and planning board issues, plan review is completed in 20 working days from the time the construction inspector accepts the plans. After 20 days, a letter that states if the plans have been approved or denied is sent to the architect.



          How many sets of architectural plans must be submitted for compliance with the building code?

The code requires that the New Jersey architect or engineer submit two sets of sealed plans for Department of Inspections review. In the case of a restaurant, three sets of plans must be submitted.



          I am a tenant. Can I schedule the inspection or do I need to have the owner of the property call?

Tenants are more than welcome to schedule inspections. Our letters were meant to be sent to owners, but if one has reached you instead, please inform our office of an address at which we can contact the owner of the property for future reference.



          I am the owner of the property but I currently live there. Do I still need an inspection?

No, these inspections are only required for properties where the owner is not in residence.



          I have a question not listed on this list. Who can I call?

Please feel free to contact the Division of Housing Inspections by calling 609-989-3562, 609-989-3563, or 609-815-2177.



          My property is unoccupied. Do I still need an inspection?

No. However, since owners will be required to register vacant properties next year, you can get ahead by registering your property early. Please call 609-989-3562 and say that you would like to register your property. Also, it is important to remember that properties must be inspected before a change in occupancy.



          What building tasks require permits?

The construction of porches and enclosures, decks, retaining walls, pools, additions, new construction, fences, signs (such as billboards), sheetrocking, alterations (if the size of doors or windows are readjusted), roofing, siding, asbestos abatement, lead hazard abatement, and demolition tasks all require building permits. A permit is not needed to paint the outside of a home unless it is in a historic district.



          What happens if any plan is denied?

If a plan is denied, a letter is sent to the architect and the owner informing them of the plan’s denial status. All issues must be corrected before the plan can be approved.



          Where can I read the City Ordinances?

Click here and go to Chapter 132, Article X, Section 85.



          Why do I need the inspection?

It is required that all rental properties in the City of Trenton be inspected every 5 years so that any violations of City ordinances may be identified and corrected.



          Will I need to get heater and chimney certifications?

Not necessarily. Certifications are required every three years when non-occupant owner licenses are renewed. If you have not submitted certifications for your property this year, please take this opportunity to do so.



 
    Electrical Inspections
          How does one arrange a reintroduction of service?

The owner shall apply to the Department of Inspections and complete a request form for reintroduction of service (this is applicable in all cases).



          What electrical tasks require permits?

The installation of lighting fixtures, receptacles, switches, smoke detectors, light poles, motors, motor control centers, emergency and exit lights, communication points, alarm devices/ fire alarm control panels, swimming pools, spas, hot tubs, electric range receptacles, electric water heaters, ovens/ surface units, electric dryers/ receptacles, dishwashers, central a/c units, space heaters/ air handlers, baseboard heat, transformers/ generators, electrical service panels, solar photovolt systems, fire alarm systems, and electric signs/ outline lights all require permits.



 
    Elevator Inspections
          Who handles elevator permits?

Obtain permit and inspection from New Jersey Department of Community Affairs.



 
    Fire Inspections
          What fire tasks require permits?

The installation of alarm panel devices (i.e., smoke, heat, manual pull stations, water/ flow), supervisory devices (i.e., tampers, low/ high air), signaling devices (i.e., horn/ strobes, bells), fire pumps, dry pipes/ alarm valves, pre-action valves, sprinkler systems (dry and wet), standpipes, wet chemicals, dry chemicals, CO2 suppression, foam suppression, clean agent suppression, kitchen hood exhaust systems, smoke control systems, gas or oil fired appliances (furnaces), fuel oil tanks, storage tanks and flammable and combustible liquid, and underground.  



 
    Fire Safety
          What events or activities require a fire safety permit?

Obtain permit from New Jersey Department of Community Affairs.



 
    Housing Inspections
          Can a citizen request a copy of his or her case?

Although all the information in the case is public information, personal information such as an unpublished telephone number is confidential. Therefore, we will allow a person to look at the parts of the file that are not considered confidential and make copies for them.  It is probably better to get a subpoena so an inspector can bring the file to court and testify if necessary.  Also, an attorney may request a copy for his or her file.



          How can one find out the status of a case?

Call the housing inspections division and ask to speak to the inspector of record. He or she will provide the information regarding the case as well as all actions being taken at that time.



          How long should a complainant wait to call the inspector?

If there is a housing problem, call the inspector immediately, especially if it is an emergency. The housing division is always willing to respond to a citizen or landlord complaint to assure that quality of life and life safety concerns are addressed.



          How many people can live in a property?

A tenant may be limited by the agreement reached with the landlord (whether it is a written or oral agreement) but also is governed by the total habitable floor space within the unit. A rule of thumb is to take the number of people and put the number 50 behind it to calculate the minimum number of square feet required. This does not include hallways, closets, baths, or storage spaces. Cellars of buildings may not be used as part of the living area because they do not meet the standard for habitable space.

Every dwelling unit with 2 or more bedrooms is as follows: 1 occupant in bedroom is 70 sq. ft. Additional occupant needs additional 50 sq. ft.  See Ord. 132-146.



          How should one address a housing problem?

First, notify the landlord of the problem and allow a reasonable time for the landlord to address the problem. If the problem persists, contact the housing inspection office at 989-3560, 989-3562 or 989-3563. Be prepared to provide the following: a description of the problem, how long it has existed, and a contact number.



          What are the penalties associated with violating city housing codes?

Violations that are not corrected can result in penalties of up to $2,000 in fines and 90 days in jail.



          What happens if a court appearance is not made when required?

The judge will issue a warrant for the arrest of the person who does not appear. This could cause the person to be detained by the police until bail is posted and the hearing rescheduled. It also delays the required work from being completed until all parties appear in court.



 
    Inspections
          How does one set up an appointment?

Contact the Department of Inspections at 989-3543. There are no specific appointment times; however, a time frame of up to two hours may be given.



 
    Plumbing Inspections
          How does one test piping (gas, drainage, water)?

  A licensed contractor will conduct tests on necessary piping for water (head test) and gas (air test, etc); all tests must sustain adequate pressure for 15 minutes.



          What is the minimum depth for water and sewer connections?

The minimum depth required for water service connection is 42 inches. The minimum depth for sewer system drainage is 24 inches.



          What is the standard temperature for hot water?

For areas housing children (such as pre-school, day care and public places), the temperature of hot water should be between 90 degrees and 105 degrees. The temperature of water in private homes should be from 120 to 140 degrees.



          What plumbing tasks requires a permit?

Click Here to Read The Plumbing Subcode Technical Section



          What tasks require backflow preventers?

The following tasks require backflow preventers: domestic heat exchangers, boilers, landscaping sprinkler systems, hose bibb connections, chemical dispensers, fire protection systems, carbonated beverage dispensers.



 
    Property Transfer- Housing Inspections
          Can the buyer of a property complete an application for a Certificate of Housing Code Compliance?

No, in the content of the application it requires that the applicant authorize the inspection and access to the property since the buyer has no legal rights to the property until it is sold.  The seller or their agent can only apply for the inspection. Application may be filed online and payment mailed to department. Buy may submit appilcation if they are responsible to obtain C.O.

Click here for the application



          How does one obtain a Residential Certificate of Housing Code Compliance?

After the inspection is complete, a list of violations is given to the seller and after completion of those violations a certificate will be issued.



          How long is the Certificate of Housing Code Compliance valid?

A Certificate of Housing Code Compliance is valid for six months.



          Is it possible to fax the application to the Department of Inspections?

No, the application must be accompanied by the necessary fees in order to be processed.



          Must a commercial property be inspected prior to the transfer of ownership?

At the present time there are no required inspections for the transfer of commercial properties, unless a residential unit is within the structure.



          What is the requirement for transferring ownership of a property?

The owner or the agent must file an application with the Division of Housing Inspections requesting a complete inspection of the dwelling.  After the necessary fees are paid, an inspector will call to set an appointment for the inspection.



 
    Rental Property- Housing Inspections
          Are tenants responsible for providing their own Smoke Detectors or Carbon Monoxide Detector in rental properties?

No, landlords are required to provide smoke detectors and a carbon monoxide detector.  A smoke detector must be present on each level of the dwelling and a CO detector on the sleeping level. However, tenants are responsible for changing the batteries and notifying the owner of a faulty unit.



          Before moving into a rental property, should an inspection be completed?

It is the landlord’s responsibility to ensure that rental units are inspected prior to occupancy. Inspections no longer issues stickers. Tenant can call to verify property is registered and if it has a current rental C.O.

Apply online and submit payment to office.



          How does one license a rental property?

Apply online and submit payment to office.



          How is a landlord notified that there is a violation?

The Department of Inspections will mail the landlord written notice that allows a reasonable amount of time for all violations to be corrected. All notifications are mailed by both regular and certified mail to the address as listed in the tax office records.



          Must a landlord be licensed in order to rent a property?

All non-occupant landlords are required to be licensed. The Division of Housing maintains a database of all licensed properties in the City of Trenton if one wishes to verify whether a particular property is licensed.



          What are a tenant’s responsibilities?

The tenant is expected to exercise reasonable care of the unit, which includes keeping it clean and sanitary and properly using all facilities supplied to the tenant. Remember: The tenant could be found in violation if proper care is not taken of the dwelling unit. This includes the proper disposal of garbage on collection days and the maintenance of the yard.



          What happens if a landlord does not do the required work ?

Usually the landlord will receive a notice to appear in court to give just cause why this work was not started or has not been completed. If there is not a good reason for the incomplete work, fines and penalties may be imposed by the judge.



          What should one expect to find when moving into a rental unit?

Before moving, make sure that the apartment building is licensed with the City of Trenton by calling 989-3563.

If there is a sticker, the landlord is required to provide a clean, habitable living unit. Be sure to check to make sure that the apartment meets the renter’s needs as well as the conditions in the following locations:

  • Bathroom — Check the water pressure, for hot and cold water, and look for leaks. Make sure that the toilet works. Check for loose tiles on the walls and floor, and check for evidence of infestation.
  • Kitchen — Check the water pressure, for hot and cold water, and for leaks. There should be a stove and refrigerator properly connected to the appropriate utility; check for evidence of infestation.
  • Ceiling — Check the ceiling and walls for water leak stains, dampness, loose plaster, holes, or cracks.
  • Windows — Check the locks, screens, glass, and frames and weatherproofing.
  • Floors — Look for rotten wood, loose tiles, splinters, and water stains.
  • Electricity — Make sure that the light switches and fixtures work. There should be covers on all outlets and light switches. Take a lamp and try all of the outlets, and look for hanging or open wires. It is sometimes not possible to check the working condition of electrical switches and outlets since the power may have been shut off in the apartment.
  • Heat — Turn on the heating system and make sure that it works properly, even if you rent in the summer. Ask about the last time that the heating unit was serviced.
  • Basement — Look for dirt, trash, leaks (or evidence of leaks), loose wires, broken windows, crumbling walls, and termites.
  • Smoke detectors — Check for installation on all levels and make sure they work properly.
  • Doors — Check for dead-bolt locks on the entrance door and ensure that they are weather tight.
  •  Paint — Look in all rooms to make sure paint is fresh; make sure that walls are smooth and able to be cleaned.


          Who is responsible for heat and utilities?

Usually the responsibility is agreed upon in the lease. Whenever a dwelling is heated by means of a furnace, boiler or other heating apparatus under the control of the owner or operator of the dwelling, such owner or operator, in the absence of a written contract or agreement to the contrary, shall be deemed to have contracted, undertaken or bound himself or herself to furnish heat in accordance with the provisions of this subsection to every dwelling unit which contains radiators, furnace heat duct outlets or other heating apparatus outlets. (Please see Section 12-8.17b of the Revised General Ordinances of the City of Trenton for details.)



 
    Weights and Measures
          How can one tell if a scale has been approved?

When a device passes its annual inspection, a blue seal of approval is placed on it. If its results are incorrect, the scale is rejected for use until corrected. Samples of the blue seals of approval can be found on scales at a supermarket or pumps at a gas station.



          How does the City ensure that citizens receive their money’s worth when buying items like meat, milk and gasoline?

In New Jersey, all large cities and most counties have weights and measures inspectors working to protect consumers from unfair practices. Highly accurate equipment is used to test and inspect scales and bar code scanners at food stores, hardware stores, meat processing plants, scrap yards, pharmacies and precious metals buyers. In addition, inspections are performed on gasoline dispensers, heating oil truck meters, propane meters, taxi meters, water meters, timing devices and counting devices. Many forms of taxes and fees are based on weight or measurement.



          What are the consequences of using an incorrect scale in a business establishment (as a means to charge consumers)?

A scale that is incorrect by one ounce on each weighing, making 100 weighs a day for 300 days a year at a unit price of $2.00 per pound, will cause an error of $3,750 per year. An error of 3 tablespoons in 5 gallons on a gasoline pump will result in an error of thousands of dollars per year at today’s average prices.



 
    Zoning
          How does one obtain a business license?

The City Clerk’s Office issues business licenses.



          What zoning task(s) require permits?

Residential, commercial, or industrial approval must be granted to establish businesses because that establishment may overpopulate or create too much noise in an area. All plans have to be approved by a zoning officer before they are reviewed by the other Sub Code officials.



 


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