June 28, 2023

Department of Permitting Services Podcast Reminds Business Owners to Contact DPS Before Signing a Lease

The fourth episode of the Montgomery County Department of Permitting Services (DPS) podcast, “Use and Occupancy Certificates,” features important information for business owners who may be considering buying or leasing a commercial space.

“We get a lot of questions from DPS customers about use and occupancy certificates and sometimes those questions come too late to do the business good,” said DPS Customer Support and Outreach Division Chief Gail Lucas, who hosts the podcast. “What I mean by that is that the business owner may have already signed a lease for a retail or office space before researching the use and occupancy certificate for the permitted use to ensure it covers the use of their new business.

DPS Commercial Field Supervisor Chris Allen joins Division Chief Lucas for the podcast and provides information about the purpose of the use and occupancy certificate, how to get a copy of it, when they expire and what inspectors are looking for when they check a commercial space.

“DPS staff can provide information to customers about if an intended use is allowable in the commercial space or if improvements must be made before you can occupy the space,” said Field Supervisor Allen. “It is important to have that information before signing a lease because renovations may be costly.”

DPS staff often receive questions about turning a building into a place of worship or church. An assembly space is among the most restrictive when it comes to both the building code and fire code because it allows for a greater number of people.

“There are usually upgrades that have to occur before you can convert a single-family house or an office space to a place of worship,” said Field Supervisor Allen. “DPS offers free predesign consultations with several of our specialists from zoning, commercial, land and electrical to go through the specific requirements with the customer and their design professionals.”

The new episode is now available on the DPS website and on podcast platforms including Amazon, Apple and Spotify. It also is available at https://permittingservicespodcast.buzzsprout.com/. Subscribe to the podcast by tapping the “plus” or “follow” sign on the podcast provider’s platform.

Previous episodes have covered topics about the importance of deck maintenance, building safety, fire prevention tips and what is trending in commercial building.

Listeners are encouraged to send questions and ideas for future podcast episodes to dps.podcast@montgomerycountymd.gov.

The DPS website features more information about use and occupancy certificates, including a frequently asked questions and answers section.

The Department of Permitting Services is located at 2425 Reedie Drive, 7th Floor in Wheaton. The customer service lobby is open from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday-Friday. Appointments are not required to get assistance in person. Customers may also reach out to DPS staff by calling MC 311 or 240-777-0311.