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Alcoholic Beverage Law Update: SLA Relaxes Certificate of Occupancy Requirements


Today the full board of the New York State Liquor Authority voted unanimously in favor of an Advisory that will make it easier for entrepreneurs opening bars and restaurants to obtain their liquor licenses.  

The Advisory suspends SLA's longstanding requirement that liquor license applicants submit a Certificate of Occupancy, Temporary Certificate of Occupancy, or Letter of No Objection prior to SLA issuing a liquor license. Instead, if an applicant is ready to pick up its liquor license and does not yet have a CO, TCO, or LNO, SLA will proceed with issuing the license, on the condition that by the time the license must be renewed -- which for most license categories is 2 years -- the applicant will need to have a valid CO, TCO, or LNO, or the license will not be renewed.

Max Bookman, partner at Pesetsky & Bookman, general and legislative counsel to the NYC Hospitality Alliance, attended the board meeting and spoke in support of the policy shift. He testified that the positive impact of this new Advisory will be immediately felt in New York City, where well-known delays at the Department of Buildings have forced new bars and restaurants to wait months to obtain their CO, TCO, or LNO; and by extension, their liquor license.  

SLA emphasizes in the Advisory that the issuance of a liquor license under this new policy does not relieve applicants of their responsibility to operate in accordance with all local building, fire, zoning and health codes.

At the board meeting, the board members reminded the public that any licensee that receives violations from the city for failure to comply with such local codes can expect violations from the SLA.