What You Need to Know About an Estoppel Certificate

A note on Estoppels for condominium property

Anna Dunaeva DLegal Anna Dunaeva November 19, 2023
DLegal Law Office - Stop

Condominium living in Alberta, Canada, is a popular choice for many, offering a unique blend of communal living and individual ownership. However, navigating the intricacies of property transactions like sales and leases can be challenging.

Whether you’re a prospective buyer, seller, tenant, or lender, understanding the nuances of condo ownership and leasing is paramount. A critical tool in this process is the estoppel certificate.

What Is An Estoppel Certificate for a Condo?

An estoppel certificate, not to be confused with the broader legal principle of “estoppel,” is a document that provides a snapshot of a condo unit’s financial and legal status at a specific point in time and is part of the due diligence process. It is typically prepared by the condo corporation or property management company.

Its purpose is to offer prospective buyers, sellers, lenders, and even tenants a comprehensive understanding of the financial, legal, and operational aspects of the condominium. It may act as an information hub, allowing stakeholders to make informed decisions regarding their investment in a condo property. Also, an estoppel may serve as proof that all condo payments have been made and bar any undisclosed claims against the unit.

Difference Between Estoppel Certificates for Residential and Commercial Leases

Estoppel certificates serve as valuable tools for both residential and commercial real estate leases, but differences arise in the details they contain. Residential tenancy estoppel certificates often highlight lease terms, the security deposit, and the tenant’s rights and obligations specific to residential living.

An estoppel certificate for a commercial lease includes details related to commercial terms, business operations within the leased space, and commercial-specific clauses, reflecting the distinct requirements of businesses.

Example of an Estoppel Certificate

To better understand the contents and format of an estoppel certificate, let’s take a look at a simplified example:

  • Property information: The certificate will begin with essential details about the condo unit, such as its address, unit number, and legal description.
  • Financial information: This section provides an overview of the unit owner’s financial obligations. It may include details on monthly condo fees, special assessments, outstanding dues, or other financial obligations.
  • Condo corporation bylaws: The estoppel certificate may include a summary of the condominium corporation’s bylaws and rules. This section helps potential buyers or tenants understand the regulations governing the property.
  • Outstanding legal issues: Any pending or ongoing legal matters involving the condo, such as lawsuits or disputes, will be outlined in this section.
  • Insurance and maintenance: Information about insurance coverage for the condo, including the type and amount of coverage, is typically included. Maintenance schedules and upcoming renovation or repair projects may also be mentioned.
  • Approval for transfer or lease: If the condo corporation requires approval for a change in ownership or leasing, the certificate may indicate the approval status for the specific unit.

Who Orders an Estoppel Certificate in Alberta?

Estoppel certificates are usually ordered by various parties involved in condo transactions. Some common scenarios include:

  • Sellers: When a condo owner decides to sell their unit, it is common for the seller’s real estate agent or lawyer to request an estoppel certificate. This helps potential buyers make informed decisions and ensures transparency in the transaction.
  • Buyers: Prospective buyers, their real estate agents, or lawyers may also request an estoppel certificate to gain a comprehensive understanding of the condo’s financial and legal status.
  • Property management companies: In cases where condo units are being managed by a property management company, they may order estoppel certificates on behalf of their clients (the condo owners) or when they are transitioning to a new management company.
  • Landlords: Condo landlords may provide estoppel certificates when leasing their units to new tenants. This allows tenants to be informed about their financial obligations and the rules of the condominium.

Why Tenants Request Estoppel Certificates

Tenants often request estoppel certificates for various reasons, primarily centered around protecting their interests and ensuring that they are aware of the financial and legal aspects of condo living.

  • Financial transparency: Landlords want their tenants to have a clear understanding of the financial responsibilities associated with living in a condominium. This includes monthly maintenance fees, special assessments, and any outstanding dues.
  • Legal obligations: By providing tenants with an estoppel certificate, landlords ensure that tenants are aware of and agree to abide by the condominium corporation bylaws and rules.
  • Rent payment verification: In some cases, landlords may use the estoppel certificate to verify the accuracy of rent payments. For instance, if the certificate indicates that the tenant should be responsible for monthly maintenance fees, the landlord can use this document to confirm the amount due.

What To Do If You Receive a Request For an Estoppel Certificate Request

When you receive a request for an estoppel certificate, your response will depend on your role in the condo transaction. Whether you’re a condo owner or a tenant, understanding your responsibilities is essential.

  • For Condo Owners (Sellers in a real estate transaction): Condo owners, including landlords or those looking to sell their units, should follow the steps outlined in the request. Ensure you provide accurate and up-to-date information about your condo unit, including financial obligations, bylaws, and any legal matters. Timely completion of the certificate is crucial, as its accuracy is essential for transparency in property transactions.
  • For Condo Landlords (Tenant Estoppel Certificates): Tenants may also request a landlord to complete an estoppel certificate, known as a tenant estoppel certificate when the condo unit is leased. This certificate serves to verify the terms of the rental agreement, including rental payment status and tenant responsibilities under the lease agreement.

Common Questions About Estoppel Certificates

There are several questions often asked regarding estoppel certificates.

How Do I Get an Estoppel Certificate?

To obtain an estoppel certificate, you can typically request it through your condo corporation, property management company, or legal representative. The requesting party will provide the necessary information to initiate the process.

Should I Request a Signed Estoppel Certificate?

Signing an estoppel certificate is often necessary to complete a condo transaction. By signing, a person giving the estoppel acknowledges that the information provided is accurate to the best of their knowledge.

How Long Are Estoppel Certificates Valid For?

Estoppel certificates are snapshots of a property’s financial and legal status at a specific point in time. They are typically valid for a limited duration, often only as of the date of issuance. It is essential to check the specific validity period mentioned in the certificate.

How Do I Check My Building’s Estoppel Certificate?

If you want to review your condo building’s estoppel certificate, you can typically request it from the condo corporation or property management company. It provides valuable information about the condo’s financial health and governance.

Are Landlords Required to Complete an Estoppel Certificate?

Landlords may be asked to complete an estoppel certificate when leasing a condo unit, primarily to ensure the new tenants understand the financial obligations and rules associated with living in the condominium.

Do I Need an Estoppel Certificate When Selling?

If you’re selling your condo unit, it’s common for the buyer or their representative to request an estoppel certificate. Providing one is often a standard part of the transaction process, helping to ensure transparency and clarity for both parties.

An estoppel certificate is a vital document in condo ownership in Alberta, but it can be complex, confusing, and challenging to navigate on your own. Whether you’re a condo owner, prospective buyer, or tenant, getting help from legal experts can help to make the process easier. DLegal are experienced Alberta real estate lawyers and can give you advice and guidance on estoppel certificates and all the legal intricacies around them.


The DLegal team is here to support. We will do our best to assist or connect you with those who can help.

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