For most of us in the leasing world, the day we sign a lease is a day of joy and anxiety. Did I make the right decision, what if I outgrow the space tomorrow, why is there no electricity? While I don’t always have the “right” answer for you about the first two questions, I can definitely help with the third. Getting electricity turned on for a commercial property in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and the surrounding area requires obtaining an occupancy permit.
Most municipalities require an occupancy permit to be issued to an owner/landlord or tenant of the commercial building prior to being occupied. Local utility providers like Entergy and DEMCO receive a fax (yes, some people still fax paperwork) from the local permit office. The occupancy inspection must be approved in order to activate the utilities to your building or suite.
Here are a few helpful steps that will enable you to better navigate the occupancy permit process. Keep in mind these steps are specific to the East Baton Rouge Parish, but will be very similar in other towns, cities and parishes (or counties as the other 49 states refer to it):
- The Department of Public Works (DPW) issues the permit. You can fill out paperwork at their office located on the corner of Florida Blvd. and North 10th Street. Look for a white, single-story building near the off-ramp of I-110 and Florida Blvd.
- Get up early and beat the crowd…DPW’s office hours are Monday through Friday, from 7:30am to 3:45pm.
- Bring cash or a credit card as they will not accept checks. The cost for the occupancy permit is $40.00 and if you have a commercial building in the city limits of Baton Rouge, you will have to pay an additional $25.00 as required for Fire Prevention Inspection for a total of $65.00.
- Water needs to be on and actively working at the building or they will not inspect the property. Here is a link to contact Baton Rouge Water Company: http://www.brwater.com/about/contact-us.html
- Be prepared and bring your lease and other pertinent paperwork with you. You will need to provide the following for your occupancy permit:
- Type of business that will occupy the building or suite
- Complete address of the property, including suite letter or number (if applicable)
- Property owner / Landlord’s name
- Your business name and your personal contact information
- After you fill out your paperwork and pay the nice lady at the counter, DPW will issue an inspection card. The commercial property inspection card must be posted on the entry door of the property that is being inspected. Tape it to the door and remember to unlock the door from 7am to 4pm the following day in order to have the property inspected.
- Check your fire extinguisher(s): Outdated fire extinguishers that have not been properly tagged as well as missing fire extinguishers are one of the most common reasons buildings fail inspection. Make sure you have an up to date fire extinguisher that has been tagged within the last twelve (12) months. For more information on fire extinguishers, visit Louisiana Fire Extinguisher’s website: http://www.louisianafire.com
- File before 3:30pm in order to receive an occupancy inspection the next business day. If tomorrow doesn’t work for you, you can ask for a specific weekday to have the property inspected.
For those in East Baton Rouge Parish opening a store and/or restaurant and plan on serving food, you must contact the Health Department at 225-242-4870 for necessary approvals. If you plan on selling alcohol, you will also need to contact the local ABC Board at 225-389-3364.
When in doubt, call the local permit office at 225-389-3105 and they will be happy to assist you.
About Justin Langlois – Justin helped launch the commercial real estate brokerage company, Sperry Van Ness | Graham, Langlois & Legendre, LLC, in Baton Rouge. A few of his strengths include sales and leasing, representation, site selection and lease negotiation. Justin is certainly experienced working with many types of real estate, but when it comes to his specialization, he is particularly keen on working with multi-family and hospitality real estate projects. If you would like to reach out to Justin, you can call him at 225-367-1515, email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @svngll.