How Zoning Is Enforced

The NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) holds primary responsibility for interpreting and enforcing the City’s Zoning Resolution to ensure the safe and lawful use of over one million buildings and construction sites across the five boroughs. Among other responsibilities, the DOB:

  • Issues building permits after reviewing building plans to determine compliance with the Zoning Resolution and the Building Code
  • Reviews applications and grants certificates of occupancy, allowing legal occupancy of new or altered structures
  • Interprets provisions of the Zoning Resolution, subject to appeal to the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA), and issues procedural guidelines for administering it
  • Orders the correction of any zoning violations and, as appropriate, prosecutes violations
  • Maintains public records of all building permits, certificates of occupancy, inspections, violations and other property profile information

Much development in New York City occurs as-of-right. Once DOB is satisfied that the proposed structure complies with all relevant provisions of the Zoning Resolution and the Building Code, a building permit is issued and construction can begin. No further action is required.

In some cases, administrative and enforcement responsibilities are delegated to other agencies with special expertise. For example, the NYC Department of Environmental Protection enforces industrial performance standards related to air quality and the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development administers Inclusionary Housing provisions.