What Is An Estoppel Certificate, and Should I Sign It?

This document can help protect both tenants and landlords.

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Estoppel Certificate

An estoppel certificate is a legally binding document used to clarify the current status of lease agreements and to protect all parties—including renters—in a real estate transaction.

Let’s break down, in plain English, what an estoppel certificate is, and why your landlord might ask you to sign one.

Here’s what we’ll discuss:

What is an estoppel certificate?

An estoppel certificate, sometimes referred to as an estoppel letter or estoppel agreement, is essentially a document that confirms the details of a rental agreement between a landlord and a tenant. It’s like a snapshot that shows the current terms of the lease, including:

  • Tenant’s name and contact information
  • Lease start and end dates
  • Monthly rent amount
  • Security deposit amount
  • Details of any prepaid rent
  • Confirmation of lease terms adherence
  • Any amendments or modifications to the lease
  • Notice of any defaults or disputes
  • Rights to renew or extend the lease

When a property is being sold or refinanced, this certificate assures the new owner or lender that the lease agreements are exactly as the tenant and landlord say they are, helping prevent any misunderstandings or disagreements later on.

Estoppel certificate vs. tenant estoppel certificate

An estoppel certificate is like a promise note that says everything in a lease agreement is true and up-to-date. It’s used in real estate—mainly in commercial leases—to make sure everyone agrees on the lease details, like how much rent is and if there are any special rules.

A tenant estoppel certificate is pretty much the same thing, but makes it clear that it’s the tenant who is confirming or promising the details of the lease. It’s a way for the tenant to tell others, like new owners or banks, “Yep, this is what I agreed to, and everything’s in order.”

How does an estoppel certificate protect renters?

Estoppel certificates prevent landlords or new owners from claiming discrepancies in lease terms or from altering the conditions of your lease without agreement. Basically, it locks in your current lease terms, providing a layer of security amidst the potential upheaval of property transactions.

Do I have to sign an estoppel certificate as a renter?

You might be required to sign it, depending on what your lease agreement says.

As a renter, if you’re asked to sign an estoppel certificate, it’s usually because your landlord is selling the property, refinancing, or dealing with a new lender. So if you’re feeling hesitant, signing an estoppel certificate is a standard part of real estate transactions and helps protect your rights as a tenant by verifying the terms of your lease.

What happens if I refuse to sign an estoppel certificate?

Refusal to sign an estoppel certificate when requested, depending on your lease agreement, could be considered a breach of your lease, which might lead to legal challenges or even eviction. 

It’s crucial to understand that signing an estoppel certificate, provided it accurately reflects your lease, does not put you at a disadvantage but rather safeguards your agreed-upon lease terms.

What should I do if my landlord asks me to sign an estoppel certificate?

Here are some general steps to consider following if you’re asked to sign an estoppel certificate as part of your lease terms:

  • Verify accuracy: Before signing anything, compare the estoppel certificate to your lease agreement and any amendments to ensure all details accurately reflect your understanding and the current state of your lease.
  • Seek clarifications: If there are discrepancies or anything is unclear, discuss these with your landlord or whoever is requesting you sign the agreement. It’s important that you fully understand and agree with what you’re signing.
  • Consult legal advice: If you’re unsure about the implications of signing the estoppel certificate or how it might affect your lease, seeking legal counsel can provide clarity and ensure your rights are protected.
  • Sign if accurate: Once you’ve confirmed the estoppel certificate accurately represents your lease agreement and you’ve addressed any concerns, signing it affirms the lease terms and helps maintain the integrity of your renter-landlord relationship.

Before we go…

Clarifying your lease terms in an estoppel certificate can help foster a more secure renter-landlord relationship and give you peace of mind that you’re protected in your rental. 

And if you’re looking for more ways to achieve stress-free living as a renter, why not take Lemonade for a spin? Lemonade renters insurance covers you and your personal property against things like theft, fires, vandalism, windstorms, and more—as well as injuries someone might sustain at your place.

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Is an estoppel certificate only used in commercial real estate?

While more common in commercial real estate, estoppel certificates can also be relevant in residential leasing situations, especially in multi-family properties, or when a property is being sold or refinanced.

Why do landlords request estoppel certificates?

Landlords often request estoppel certificates before selling the property or when getting a new loan, to show buyers or lenders that the lease terms listed are correct and there are no hidden issues—like unpaid rent.

Why would I need to sign an estoppel certificate?

You might be required to sign an estoppel certificate to verify the terms of your lease and the status of your rent payments, providing essential information to prospective buyers, new owners, or lenders.

Can an estoppel certificate affect my security deposit?

Yes, an estoppel certificate can affirm the amount and terms of your security deposit as agreed in your lease. It ensures that new property owners are aware of and honor these original terms, safeguarding your deposit’s return conditions.

A few quick words, because we <3 our lawyers: This post is general in nature, and any statement in it doesn’t alter the terms, conditions, exclusions, or limitations of policies issued by Lemonade, which differ according to your state of residence. You’re encouraged to discuss your specific circumstances with your own professional advisors. The purpose of this post is merely to provide you with info and insights you can use to make such discussions more productive! Naturally, all comments by, or references to, third parties represent their own views, and Lemonade assumes no responsibility for them. Coverage and discounts may not be available in all states.


Please note: Lemonade articles and other editorial content are meant for educational purposes only, and should not be relied upon instead of professional legal, insurance or financial advice. The content of these educational articles does not alter the terms, conditions, exclusions, or limitations of policies issued by Lemonade, which differ according to your state of residence. While we regularly review previously published content to ensure it is accurate and up-to-date, there may be instances in which legal conditions or policy details have changed since publication. Any hypothetical examples used in Lemonade editorial content are purely expositional. Hypothetical examples do not alter or bind Lemonade to any application of your insurance policy to the particular facts and circumstances of any actual claim.