When you embark on the journey of buying a condominium in Alberta, you’re bound to encounter the term “estoppel certificate.” While this certificate plays a crucial role in the process of buying and selling condominiums, many people remain uncertain about its purpose and significance. The world of condominiums in Alberta is governed by a web of rules, laws, and procedures, and an estoppel certificate is a key player in this arena.

What is an Estoppel Certificate?

An estoppel certificate is a formal document signed by either the condominium board or the condominium management company. This certificate serves as a solemn affirmation of the accuracy of specific information pertaining to the condominium corporation, the common property of the condo, and the individual unit in question. The term “estoppel” refers to the legal principle that once this certificate is issued, the condominium is essentially “estopped” from changing its mind about the certified contents. For prospective condo buyers, this document is a lifeline, as it provides them with a reliable source of information they can trust.

Who Orders Estoppel Certificates?

Typically, the lawyer representing the seller of a condominium is responsible for ordering the estoppel certificate and then passing it on to the buyer’s lawyer. In cases where a condo owner is refinancing their property, their lawyer will initiate the process and provide the certificate to the mortgage company. Additionally, buyers themselves have the option to independently order an estoppel certificate if they wish. However, it’s crucial to note that the timing of this request is of utmost importance. Consulting your lawyer before placing an order is strongly advised to ensure that it aligns with the transaction’s timeline.

What Does an Estoppel Certificate Reveal?

The information contained in an estoppel certificate can vary from one condominium corporation to another, but in Alberta, these certificates typically include the following details:

  1. Whether there are any arrears in condo fees.
  2. The current monthly condo fees assessed for the specific unit listed in the certificate.
  3. The due dates for condo fee payments.
  4. Any outstanding interest on unpaid fees.
  5. Any penalties imposed on individual unit owners.
  6. Upcoming special assessments that may need to be paid.
  7. Any special assessments in arrears.
  8. Details of ongoing litigation involving the condominium corporation.
  9. Existence of any court judgments against the condo corporation.
  10. Any outstanding debts or claimed interests in the common property.
  11. Long-term contracts or obligations of the condo corporation.

How Much Does an Estoppel Certificate Cost?

The cost of an estoppel certificate is not standardized and can vary. As a general guideline, you can expect the cost to range from $200 to $350. In some instances, small condominiums may not charge for the issuance of an estoppel certificate. It’s important to note that the cost for an estoppel certificate should be consistent and fixed for each specific condominium corporation. In certain cases, this fee may encompass proof of insurance coverage for the building, while in others, an additional fee may be required for providing evidence of insurance.

Why Estoppel Certificates Are Essential

When you’re in the process of buying a resale condominium, requesting an estoppel certificate is more than just a formality – it’s a necessity. This certificate serves as a legally binding statement from the condominium corporation and provides irrefutable evidence of the certified matters within. The Alberta legislation mandates that the condominium corporation has ten days from the receipt of a request from an owner, purchaser, mortgagee, or any person authorized in writing to furnish the estoppel certificate. The certificate includes:

  • The current condominium contributions, commonly referred to as condo fees, associated with the unit.
  • The payment schedule for contributions, typically on a monthly or yearly basis.
  • Confirmation of any outstanding contributions.
  • Information about any interest owed on unpaid contributions.

It’s crucial to understand that unpaid condominium contributions are tied to the unit, not the owner. Therefore, if you purchase a unit with outstanding contributions, you will assume the responsibility for settling them. In such cases, it’s advisable to engage in a conversation with your lawyer or real estate agent to explore the possibility of deducting these unpaid fees and interest from the purchase price.


Estoppel certificates are not just another piece of paper in the complex world of Alberta condominiums; they are a key element that provides transparency and security to both buyers and sellers. These certificates empower individuals to make informed decisions and protect their interests in the intricate web of condominium ownership. So, next time you’re involved in a condominium transaction in Alberta, don’t overlook the importance of the estoppel certificate – it’s your shield of certainty in the world of condos.