Estoppel Certificates: What to Do if You Get One?

Let’s say you’re living in your apartment. You pay your rent on time, your landlord is great and responsive and everything is fine. Then, out of the blue, one day you receive an estoppel certificate or estoppel letter. It looks a lot like a legal document and you wonder what it is, what it means and if you’re required to sign it?

What is an estoppel certificate?

“An estoppel certificate is a signed statement usually by a tenant (either residential or commercial) certifying as true particular facts related to the lease,” said Joseph Hernandez, partner and chair of the Florida-based real estate practice group, Weiss Serota Helfman Cole & Bierman.

What do I do if I get an estoppel certificate from my landlord?

An estoppel certificate is usually required of a tenant when the leased property nearly sells.

In some cases, it’s required when property finance occurs. According to Hernandez, “A purchaser of an apartment building with 50 units would want to have the assurance that all tenants are paying their rent, there’s no dispute between the tenant and landlord, no defaults, deposits have been made, etc.”

Signing a contract.

Do you need to respond and sign an estoppel certificate?

Responding to and signing an estoppel certificate depends on your lease agreement.

“In many cases, the lease agreement requires the tenant to respond and sign an estoppel within a certain number of days if he/she is ever asked to sign a tenant estoppel. As such, it is often mandatory,” said Hernandez.

It doesn’t mean that if your lease does not contain a covenant to sign an estoppel certificate that you’re off the hook or you won’t have to respond to one. If you’re not sure about your obligations, it is important to review the lease or having counsel look at it and determine what the lease requires.

“Even if it is not required under the lease, it is still usually a good idea to cooperate,” Hernandez says. “If there are defaults or other issues that must be disclosed in the estoppel certificate, a tenant may need to seek counsel to assist in responding to such a request. It may be advisable for a tenant to seek legal counsel for assistance with determining what facts are in existence and reviewing the language for the estoppel certificate.”

What does an estoppel letter contain?

If a landlord is selling an apartment building, the purchaser would likely include a provision in the purchase agreement requiring the landlord to provide tenant estoppel certificates from all tenants before closing. The reason is so the buyer can have the assurance that tenants pay rent and there are no default issues.

“The rental income is critical to an owner of an apartment building as it determines the value of the property and it determines if, and how much, financing is available on the property,” added Hernandez.

For this reason, an estoppel certificate usually contains a statement of certain important facts such as the dates the lease began, expiration date, whether rent is up to date, the amount of rent, any options to renew or extend the lease, any subleases and their terms and so on.

The estoppel certificate usually contains language stating that the purchaser/lender is relying upon the tenant’s confirmation of the statements in the certificate.

Reviewing a document.

What happens if I don’t respond to an estoppel certificate?

Tenants rights lawyer Joseph Tobener with California-based Tobener Ravenscroft LLP agrees that tenants must fill out an estoppel document when the lease requires the tenant to do so. What if you don’t respond to an estoppel certificate?

“A tenant with a lease that requires completion of an estoppel would be in breach of lease for failing to complete and return an estoppel,” said Tobener.

That’s not to say you must always respond and sign an estoppel document.

“In certain jurisdictions with rent control, a tenant would not be considered in breach if the tenant did not fill out an estoppel,” Tobener said, “A tenant on an oral lease does not have to complete an estoppel.”

If your lease does need you to complete an estoppel certificate, you will have some days in which you have to return it. However, a tenant does not have to use the form provided. “Instead, a tenant can just submit an unsigned Word document entitled estoppel, answering only those questions that the tenant feels comfortable answering,” Tobener said.

Reasons to complete an estoppel certificate

Is there ever a good reason a tenant will want to complete an estoppel certificate? There are three circumstances in which a tenant would want to cooperate:

  • Your lease requires it
  • When the tenant wants a new owner to know of any oral agreements the tenant made with the prior landlord such as storage, pets
  • If local rent control has special protections for disabled tenants

If a tenant is in a jurisdiction with rent control, it is important to get expert advice before submitting the estoppel.

“An estoppel certificate is a document that allows a new, prospective landlord to learn about a tenancy in advance of purchasing a tenant-occupied building,” said Tobener, “It is also a chance for a tenant to fill in a new landlord on the details of a tenancy.”

To that end, the facts included in the document are important and accuracy is key.

“Any party seeking an estoppel certificate — whether it is a purchaser or lender — must be able to rely on the facts in the estoppel as the basis for its decision of whether to complete the purchase or close the loan,” said Hernandez, “It is important that any tenant asked to complete an estoppel certificate be extremely careful as to the accuracy of included facts because a landlord or purchaser could rely on the representations as true to its detriment and seek legal recourse against the signer if a certified fact turns out to be false or inaccurate.”

Estoppel certificates and your lease

Bottom line, if you receive a request to submit an estoppel certificate or estoppel letter, review your lease agreement. If it’s required, it’s important to complete the certificate in an accurate, timely manner while understanding it’s a binding document.

The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal or financial advice. Readers are encouraged to seek professional legal or financial advice as they may deem it necessary.


Ask The Apartment Experts: What Is Rent Control?

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Ask The Apartment Experts: What Is Rent Control?

Rent control is a term that technically applies to all rental housing in DC, but apartments built before 1975 are subject to controls, while those built after that year are exempt. The ‘controls’ that apply to the rental housing built before 1975 limit the amount a landlord can increase your rent year-over-year.

How do I qualify for a rent control apartment?

Rent controlled apartments are available to anyone regardless of income. There are no extra steps for you to take during the application process to qualify. At the time of lease signing, there may be a couple of extra documents/disclosures required.

How does DC rent control work?

The defining characteristic of rent control is that annual increases in your rent may not exceed an allowable increase set by the city government. Considering market rents in the District can increase between 10%-20% depending on demand, having a cap on your rent increase is ideal.

The actual increase is often MUCH less than you would receive at a market rate apartment building. The annual adjustment follows the Consumer Price Index CPI plus somewhere between 2%-10% of your rent. The combination of CPI + the % increase can never exceed 10% total.

EXAMPLE: if in 2016 your rent was $1000 upon your anniversary/lease renewal, your rent could have a maximum increase of $25 (because the CPI was .5% and the city allowed an additional 2% increase).

Most people tend to stay in rent control apartments for a looooong time. see: Monica and Rachel’s apartment on Friends

The compromise to living in these apartment units is that they are old. That usually means these apartment buildings are not going to have a ton of the amenities you might see in newer, luxury buildings. Expect that your apartment will probably be pretty basic think: window air conditioner units and no garbage disposals or dishwashers.

If budget is a concern and you can find a rent control apartment with a long-term prior tenant, you could potentially find a one bedroom for less than $1000. Significantly under market rents like this come available further and fewer between, but deals are still available if you are patient, persistent and willing to spend some time searching.

Where do I find rent control apartments?

What’s the best place to find a rent control deal? We definitely like to highlight our favorites. Check out this article to find a few.

Otherwise, the next best method is good old-fashioned shoe leather. Get out and walk the streets of neighborhoods that interest you. Adams Morgan, Cleveland Park, Van Ness and Glover Park all have a substantial inventory of rent control units.

For more information about affordable apartments read our Guide To Washington, DC Affordable Housing Options.

Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of, Inc, or its affiliates.


Best Dog Friendly Apartments in DC

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


Moving to a new city with a dog can be stressful…for both you and your four-legged family member. We know how important your furry friends are to you. We also know how important it is to find the best dog friendly apartments when you’re moving to DC. So we researched the inventory to find some affordable apartments and some luxury communities that will cater to you and your furry friend. We also created a guide for moving with your dog to keep you both calm on the big day. This will help you live happily with your dog in the apartment.

The Shawmut is a rent control building in Northwest DC.  This community goes way beyond simply accepting pets. They 100% embrace being dog-friendly.  The Shawmut is one of the few apartment communities that does not have breed restrictions. Your four-legged family member will have to interview with the building manager to make sure they are well behaved.   The Shawmut is situated right next to Kalorama dog park and the surrounding streets are perfect for walking you and your pup’s walks.

4031 Davis is a small rental community of one-bedroom apartments is located in Glover Park in Northwest DC.  Not only does this community does accept dogs, there’s no pet rent or pet fees…making it not just pet-friendly, but also budget friendly.  Glover Park has tons of walking trails for you and your pup to explore.  It’s also super convenient with Whole Foods and Safeway both less than a half-mile away. 

2M‘s luxury offering in the NoMa neighborhood goes beyond simply accepting pets.  They love your four-legged friends so much that they put a private dog park right in the middle of the interior courtyard of the building.  Where 2M really takes it a step further is with their building pet ambassador, Emmy.  Emmy is a ridiculously adorable Miniature English Bulldog that spends her days in the leasing office with the rest of the 2M team, inviting belly rubs and head scratches.  Residents are able to take Emmy for supervised walks in the interior dog park, allowing those who cannot (for whatever reason) have their own pet to still get their puppy fix from the comfort of home.  

Located in the hotter than hot Capitol Riverfront neighborhood, Park Chelsea is the first of 3 pet-friendly buildings that will make up The Collective – a collection of 3 apartment buildings that will all share amenities.  With both Phase one and Phase two, the Agora now complete, your pooch can enjoy 2 separate rooftop dog parks, and this summer, a dog park is opening right across the street! But for now, they’ll have to settle for the Park Chelsea rooftop, puppy agility course, and dog run.  Another great offering is the dog washroom, which allows you to easily shampoo, rinse and blow-dry your dogs without ever leaving home – and without the mess of trying to do it in your own bathroom!  

City Market at O offers a luxurious lifestyle not just for us humans, but for your pets as well.  With a rooftop dog park boasting sweeping views of the city and pet spa rooms perfect for grooming, your pooch will be more pampered than ever!

Looking for more moving tips? Check out our Ultimate Renters Guide to Washington, D.C.

Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of, Inc, or its affiliates.


Best Apartment Communities in DC | Spring 2018

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

The Best Apartment Communities in Washington DC | Spring 2018 Edition

Washington, DC has over 3,500 apartment communities to choose from when deciding where to live….To say apartment hunting in DC is overwhelming would be a slight understatement.  We culled the options by checking out review sites like Google, Yelp, and Apartment Ratings. Below is our list of our favorites and what the reviews say are the best apartment communities in DC.

This isn’t the first time Park Chelsea is making the list of Best Apartment Communities in DC.  In 2017, they made Washington City Paper’s Best of lists.  The warm classic finishes paired with an endless list of amenities make Park Chelsea a must see.  Residents at Park Chelsea get access to free weekly yoga and spin classes, monthly social events like mixology and pizza making demonstrations, and a list of amenities that include an indoor pool and steam room and rooftop pool with monument views. While Park Chelsea is just about 100% occupied, phase 2 of the community, The Agora just opened.  Residents of the two buildings get reciprocal access to each other’s amenities. And when the Whole Foods opens on the ground floor of the Agora, you’ll be saying Yes to this address.

Brunswick House is not only rated one of the best apartments in DC, but its ratings on multiple reviews sites also rank it as one of the best apartments in the country.  Interestingly, Brunswick House is not a new luxury apartment community.  Instead, it is an older, albeit well-maintained building with a stellar location and a phenomenal staff.  Reviews describe it as, “a place with a warm sense of community, wonderful neighbors, and an amazing management team.”  Brunswick House is a rent control building, meaning that rent is only increased a marginal amount each year.  This makes it the best deal in the city for anyone planning to stay in one apartment for an extended period.  Located just off of the Dupont Metro station, you can live a car-free and carefree life at this community.

When ranking apartments as the best in DC, one of the factors must be location.  The Swift at Petworth is one block from the metro and has a Safeway grocery built on the first floor pushing this apartment community to the top of our list. The Swift at Petworth apartment finishes are stunning and include all the right extras; washers and dryers in the apartments and kitchens to die for. If you are new to DC, you’l appreciate the programmed resident events.  One review stated, “The events they hold and the community atmosphere they create truly sets this building apart.”

City Market at O isn’t the newest building in DC, but they continue to rank high in Google and Apartment Rating reviews.  The amenities at this building show how the developer really thought about the residents and their needs.  The indoor/outdoor fireplace is one of our favorite features.  They also thought about your furry family members’ needs with a rooftop pet park.   One review summed it up with, “In my experience, City Market at O is the best apartment community in the city. The staff are friendly, the residents are sociable, and the amenities are top-notch.”

Located in the Cathedral heights neighborhood of DC, 3333 Wisconsin is one of DC’s best apartment communities for those looking for a bit more residential feel.  The apartment community backs up to a neighborhood full of gorgeous houses and parks and is just a stone’s throw away from the National Cathedral.  Runners and walkers love the wide sidewalks lining the streets and mature trees that provide fantastic shade.  But this neighborhood isn’t all houses!  DC institutions like 2Amy’s Pizza and Cactus Cantina are right outside 3333 Wisconsin’s front door.  You also have a Giant grocery store, CVS, Barcelona Restuarant, Solidcore, Pure Barre and countless other conveniences.  The apartment community has a theater room, fitness center and a rooftop deck to take in the city views.  One reviewer wrote, “Convenient location, excellent amenities and amazing staff. The concierge service in this building was impeccable.”

Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of, Inc, or its affiliates.

Also published on Medium.


Top 5 Rent Control Apartments Available to Rent Today

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


Rent control apartments can be rented by anyone.

Low and predictable rent increases are what make rent control apartments so desirable.

Why are they so low?

The annual increases in your rent may not exceed an allowable increase set by the city government. The annual adjustment is based on the Consumer Price Index CPI plus somewhere between 2%-10% of your rent. The combination of CPI + the  % increase can never exceed 10% total.  The law also sets that the landlord may only increase your rent once in any 12-month period. So, if in 2016 your rent was $1000 upon your anniversary/lease renewal, your rent could have a maximum increase of $25. Because the CPI was .5% and the city allowed an additional 2% increase.

We wrote a whole blog about it if you want to Read more…

Or if you want, just check out the rent control buildings below and score yourself some new digs!

One of the worst things about renting is the inevitable rent increases that you get every year.  One way to combat the impact of those rent increases is to find a rent controlled apartment.  Rent control apartments have a cap on how much your rent can be increased each year.  How rent increases are calculated is a little tricky.  You can read more about it here. We searched the Washington, DC apartment inventory and compiled a list of the top five rent controlled apartments you can rent today.


Studio $1495

4550 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington, DC 20008

The Frontenac is nestled in the heart of elegant upper-Northwest. The Frontenac boasts spacious apartments with updated kitchens and bathrooms. Its classic architectural style, evident in our grand lobby’s high ceiling and in our apartment units’, arched doorways and traditional wainscoting, attracts tours of local art history students.You can meet your neighbors or take advantage of WiFi on the Frontenac’s peaceful roof deck or in its spacious laundry room. Take a stroll to the Van Ness metro station, Giant, Whole Foods, pharmacies, dry cleaners, restaurants, shopping, and great schools for students of all ages. Our neighborhood is full of hidden gems..


Wakefield Hall
1 BR  $1895

2101 New Hampshire Ave NW
Washington, DC 20009

Wakefield Hall’s decorative facade gives way to just as beautiful apartments. Hardwood floors, updated kitchens, and walk-in closets create a charming and comfortable living space. Wakefield Hall is located near U St./Cardozo Metro Station, giving you access to all DC has to offer via the yellow and green lines. You can step out your front door and experience the cultural vibes within your neighborhood.


The Calverton   LEASED
Studio  $1485

1673 Columbia Road, NW
Washington, DC 20009

Simple elegance. The best things in life don’t have to be bragged about. They can be simply appreciated each time you arrive home. The Calverton Apartments are in in the heart of the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington, DC. An array of restaurants and grocery options are within minutes of your apartment. Inside, you’ll find updated kitchens with energy efficient appliances, grand living rooms and large windows for natural light to pour in. Whether you choose to rent a studio, one-bedroom or two-bedroom apartment, you will be treated to beautiful hardwood floors and ample closet space. This is thoughtful living.


Dupont Apartments
1 BR  $1775

1717 20th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20009

Choosing this apartment community is all about choosing the location.  The building is located in one of the most desired locations in all of DC. DuPont Circle provides easy access to public transportation, a variety of restaurant and entertainment options, and a quick commute to many of DC’s finest attractions.  Living at the Dupont Apartments will give you the lifestyle you want, and the location you need. The apartments feature hardwood floors, high ceilings, and spacious floorplans in a controlled access building.


Klingle Apartments
1 BR  $1675

2755 Macomb Street, NW
Washington, DC 20008

Right on the corner of Connecticut Avenue and Macomb Avenue, you will find The Klingle, a Cleveland Park apartment building with one-bedroom apartments for rent. The spacious layouts, beautiful hardwood floors, energy efficient appliances, and bright and open atmosphere of the apartments aren’t all that you will love. The Klingle community has on-site maintenance and management teams available to assist its residents, on-site laundry facilities, and it is conveniently located one block away from the Cleveland Park Metro. Comfort and convenience are a given when you live at The Klingle. Make it your home today!WC Smith embraces the belief that great customer service is our best amenity. Living at The Klingle means experiencing a higher level of service. Our service team is available 24 hours a day, and you can access your resident account online at any time; day or night. Discover true convenient living in the city, at The Klingle located in the Cleveland Park neighborhood.

Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of, Inc, or its affiliates.

Also published on Medium.