Fact Sheet

Building Ownership

A nonprofit that is a property owner has legal obligations and liabilities much broader than a nonprofit that leases space or operates out of someone's home or apartment For instance, an owner is responsible for the soundness of the entire building: code requirements are met, repairs are made, equipment (water heater, heating, ventilation and air conditioning system) is run according to manufacturers' instructions and serviced on a regular schedule, and that security is provided and maintained.

Building Codes and Licensing Requirements

There are building codes and licensing requirements to be met no matter what services the nonprofit provides. Make certain to follow all the federal, state and local regulations and laws that apply to the organization. Establish a mechanism for being updated when these change. Some Web sites offer a signup for automatic announcements of pending changes. To make certain the organization's facility is up to code, appoint a person or persons (if staff is large the process can be divided among several people) to monitor three areas:

If the organization owns the facility, there will be more rules and regulations to track than a nonprofit that rents or borrows space from your organization. Make certain that the person monitoring the situation seeks not only changes in the current status, but also researches new laws and standards that affect the nonprofit's future existence.


Assign an individual on the nonprofit's staff to research compliance issues including building codes, licensing, and federal and state standards.


Oliver, Barbara B., Managing Facility Risk, 10 Steps to Safety, Nonprofit Risk Management Center, Washington, DC, 2004

Building Ownership Checklist

Lighting and Landscape

Elevators, Escalators and Stairways

Safety Devices

Floor Maintenance and Repair

Roof Maintenance and Repair

Water Leakage and Mold

Emergency Preparedness

Storage, Care and Repair of Tools

ADA Compliance

Keeping a Clean and Safe Office Space