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Estoppel Certificate
Estoppel certificate: A signed statement by a party . . . certifying for the benefit of another party that a certain statement of facts is correct as of the date of the statement.  -Black's Law Dictionary
When Required. In addition to escrow disclosures and documents required by statute, an association's governing documents will sometimes require the association to provide an "estoppel certificate" upon request by the seller for benefit of the buyer of a unit/lot in the development. Following are examples:
Association Estoppel Certificate. The Association shall, upon demand, and for a reasonable charge not to exceed Two Hundred Fifty Dollars ($250.00), furnish a certificate signed by an officer or agent of the Association, setting forth the Assessments levied upon a particular Parcel which are due but unpaid. A properly executed certificate of the Association as to the status of such Assessments is binding upon the Association as of the date of the certificate's issuance.

Estoppel Certificate. Each Owner and/or the Association, upon written request of any other Owner or Permittee, shall issue to the requesting Owner or to any prospective Mortgagee or purchaser of such Owner's Parcel, an estoppel certificate stating: (a) whether the Owner or Association issuing such certificate knows of any default under this Declaration, and if there are known defaults, specifying the nature thereof; (b) whether to its knowledge this Declaration has been assigned, modified or amended in any way (and if it has, stating the nature thereof); and (c) that, to such Owner or Association's knowledge, this Declaration is in full force and effect as of the date of
such certificate.

Estoppel Certificate. Within ten days of the mailing or delivery of a written
request by any Owner, the Board shall provide the Owner with a written statement containing the following information: (i) whether to the knowledge of the Association, the Owner or occupant of the Owner's Condominium is in violation of any of the provisions of this Declaration, the Articles, Bylaws or Rules; (ii) the amount of regular and special assessments, including installment payments, paid by the Owner during the fiscal year in which the request is received; and (iii) the amount of any assessments levied against the Owner's Condominium that are unpaid as of the date of the statement, including any late charges, interest or costs of collection, and that, as of the date of the statement, are or may be made a lien against the Owner's Condominium as provided by this Declaration. The Association may charge a fee to provide this information provided the fee shall not exceed the Association's reasonable cost to prepare and reproduce the requested items.
Estoppel Certificate. Within thirty (30) days after written demand is delivered to the Association by any Owner, and upon payment to the Association of a reasonable fee (as fixed from time to time by the Board), the Board shall cause to be recorded an estoppel certificate, certifying (with respect to any Lot of said Owner) that as of the date thereof, either: (i) all improvements made and other work completed by said Owner comply with this Declaration, or (ii) such improvements or work do not so comply, in which event the certificate shall also identify the non-complying improvements or work and set forth with particularity the basis of such non-compliance. Any Owner, or anyone deriving any interest in a Lot through him or her, shall be entitled to rely on said certificate with respect to the matters therein set forth, such matters being conclusive as between the Association and all Owners and such persons deriving any interest through them.
As can be seen above, the language can vary significantly from association to association.

Legally Binding. Once the estoppel certificate as been issued, it prevents the association from later asserting facts different from those contained in the certificate. Estoppel certificates are legally binding on the association. (Plaza Freeway Limited Partnership v. First Mountain Bank (2000) 81 CA4th 616, 96 CR2d 865.)

Lender Certificates. Lenders often require their own version of an estoppel certificate. It is transmitted via escrow to the association and has similar questions but includes questions about:
  • delinquency levels,

  • reserve funding levels,

  • the percentage of renters in the development,

  • rent restrictions, if any,
  • how often dues are paid (monthly, quarterly, annually),

  • the amount of the dues,

  • if there are pending special assessments,

  • if there are any arrears in the payment of assessments,

  • insurance carried by the association,

  • whether the association is currently involved in any litigation,

  • FHA certification status,

  • any violations involving the property (such as hardwood floors),

  • any unsatisfied judgment against the association or against the seller's unit,

  • etc.

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