Lettings Jargon Buster

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Letting or renting a property can be tricky enough without being confused by the some of the words and terms that you will come across. Below we have put together an A-Z of jargon regarding the letting of property in the UK to help you on your way!

The Act

The Housing Act 2004 which states the statutory requirements for tenancy deposit protection.

Agent

An agent acting on behalf of the landlord who may be involved in the letting, rent collection, management, estate agent or other duly authorised person.

Arrears

Money that is unpaid by a tenant in whole or in part after the date specified in the tenancy agreement.

AST (Assured Shorthold Tenancy)

An assured shorthold tenancy offers the landlord a guaranteed right to repossess his/her property at the end of the term stated in the tenancy agreement.

Banker’s Draft

A banker’s draft is similar to a cheque, however the money has been debited to your bank account and it means the person receiving this will know it is safe money. You will normally need to give a bank in the UK 24 hours notice and will be charged an administration fee.

Block Management

Refers to agents acting on behalf of freeholders and leaseholds for blocks of apartments and flats. Normally this involves organising internal cleaning, garden maintenance, insurance and redecoration.

Bonding or Bonded

The agent arranges and maintains, usually through a professional body, Client Money Protection Insurance which will reimburse the public in the event of fraudulent or dishonest misappropriation of clients’ money; and that the extent of cover meets the minimum criteria set from time to time by the Board of The Dispute Service.

Break Clause

A clause sometimes inserted in a fixed term tenancy, typically if the initial fixed term is for a year or more. A break clause will usually allow either landlord or tenant to give two months written notice at any stage after a particular date or period of the tenancy, thus terminating the tenancy earlier than the end of the original fixed term. If the initial tenancy is renewed a break clause may be requested if either party do not know if the can continue the contract or not. May also be referred to as a Release Clause.

Buy to let mortgage

A type of mortgage that is designed specifically for people buying a property with the intention of then letting it.

Client Account

An account set up in a bank, building society or other financial institution specifically to hold money held on behalf of clients.

Common Household

Where a residential property is self contained, shared and let as a whole house by two or more tenants. Tenants are usually jointly and severally liable under the tenancy agreement.

Company Let

Let to a bona fide company.

Contract

A legal agreement between the seller and buyer of a property which binds both parties to complete the transaction.

Contractual Obligation

A binding obligation imposed on parties to a contract which, if not complied with, breaches the contract.

Contractual Term

A fixed period of time stated in a contract referring to the time that the contract will last.

Conversion

The sub-division of a residential property into bedsits, self-contained flats or maisonettes.

Council Tax

A local authority tax for England, Wales and Scotland, which is usually the responsibility of the resident to pay.

Covenants

An agreement to refrain from or engage in a specified action that is laid out in the terms of the tenancy agreement, refers to obligations or promises made by either the Landlord or Tenant.

Credit Search References

References requested for a tenant applying for rented accommodation. Many agents and individual landlords use external companies who will contact the applicant’s employer, landlord and also check out the tenant’s credit history, providing a report on the prospective tenant’s financial suitability to rent.

Deposit

A monetary amount held by the landlord or agent for security against damage to a property. In Britain approximately the equivalent to six week rental is held. In April 2007 a new system was introduced in England and Wales for Assured Shorthold Tenancies. The new Tenancy Deposit Scheme mixes custodial and insurance backed deposit holding mechanisms. The landlord or agent must register the tenancy details within 14 days of the tenancy start. At the end of the tenancy the tenant has to be notified of any deductions within a given time.

Dilapidation

Damage to a property or contents that exceeds acceptable wear and tear.

Due Diligence

A process of performing duties to the generally accepted professional standard.

Duty of Care

An obligation owed to others, specifically Landlords and Tenants, to provide the correct advice regarding lettings and ensure the well being and safety of those who may visit the property.

Execute a Tenancy

The procedure to finalise a legally valid tenancy by dating the Original (signed by the landlord) and the Counterpart (signed by the tenant) and exchanging them. The date is legally considered to be the date on which the agreement was made.

Extensions

Contracts to let residential property are for a fixed term. On expiration of that term an extension may be negotiated, which can be referred to as a renewal, for a further fixed term, month-by-month or quarterly basis.

Fixtures and fittings

Items usually provided in a letting that may include curtains, carpets, blinds, light fittings, kitchen units and appliances. In some cases it may also include furniture. It is advisable to check what is provided and not to assume that items will be provided.

Freehold

Refers to the ownership of the property and means that it belongs to the owner without limitation of time, unlike a leasehold.

Gas Safety Regulations

The Landlord must ensure that a gas safety check is carried out prior to a let and then annually after that. An authorised CORGI registered engineer must carry out the check and a copy of the record must also be given to the tenant.

Ground Rent

The annual charge payable by the leaseholder to the freeholder.

Grounds For Possession

The reasons for applying to the courts for repossession of a property.

Guarantor

A person who is prepared to guarantee rental payments and other obligations of a tenancy to a Landlord. The guarantor is liable for rental payments if a tenant is unable to pay them, so the guarantor will need to have a regular income. References or credit search references will usually be taken up on a guarantor.

Handover

The time when tenants are allowed occupation of a property.

Head Lease

This sets out the promises the Landlord has made to his Superior Landlord. The promises contained in this Head Lease will bind the Tenant if he has prior knowledge of those promises.

High Rent tenancy

Refers to a tenancy agreement where the annual rent is over £25,000 per annum, also known as a contractual tenancy.

Holding Deposit

This is usually a nominal amount (£100 +) that will be asked for when a tenant applies for a tenancy of a property. If the tenancy does not proceed because the tenant pulls out or the references are unacceptable, this deposit is often retained by the agent. Assuming the tenancy proceeds, then the amount is normally deducted from the first month’s rental or deposit.

Housing Act Tenancy

Currently applied only to tenancies which fall within the scope of the Housing Act 1988 & Housing Act 1996.

HMO

House in multiple occupation, refers to bedsits or flats which normally offer a self-contained room with either cooking facilities in the room, a shared kitchen or shared bathroom and toilet facilities. Under the Housing Act 2004 it will cover any property occupied by more than one household that is a converted building even if the flats are not self contained.

Initial Term

This describes the first period of the tenancy.

Inventory

An inventory details the contents of a property and can include the state and condition of a property including the fixtures, fittings and the garden. They should be checked in with the tenant at the start of the tenancy and then checked out with the tenant at the end. Often a professional inventory clerk is employed to carry out the inventory.

Joint & Several Liability

Where there is more than one adult living in the property, the tenancy will say they are “jointly and severally” responsible. This means that, jointly, the tenants are liable for the payment of all rents and all liabilities falling upon the tenants during the tenancy, as well as any breach of the Agreement. Individually each tenant is responsible for payment of all rent and all liabilities falling upon the tenant, as well as any breach of the Agreement until all payments have been made in full.

Landlord

A person, persons, company or body that has the right to let the property.

Lease

Often confused with tenancy agreement this is normally a long lease on an apartment. The actual document governing a rental is normally known as a Tenancy Agreement.

Lessor

Refers to the person responsible for granting a lease, usually the landlord.

Letting

An agreement to let a particular property.

Maintenance Charge

A charge payable covering the cost of repairing and maintaining the external or internal elements of communal parts of a building, prevalent in flats and apartment buildings.

Managing Agent

A professional or company responsible under an agency agreement for the maintenance and management of the property.

Multiple Occupation

A property occupied by more than one tenant and not used as a single home, that is where individual and private rooms may be locked but where tenants share facilities. This also includes any residential property which is occupied by separate tenants under individual agreements.

Non-Housing Act

Residential tenancies which don’t meet the criteria of the Housing Act 1988 and Tenancies Act 1996 are known as Non-Housing Act Tenancies.

NRL 1

A Non- Residence Landlord Scheme form which is sent to the Inland Revenue.

Notice Period

The amount of notice that the Landlord must give the Tenant to end the tenancy and vice versa.

Occupancy Rights

These are contained within the tenancy agreement and give the tenant right of occupancy of the property.

Owner Occupier

The person who owns the property who is, has been and will be living in the property as his sole or principle residence.

Parties

Landlord and tenant (and possibly a guarantor) who come together to sign a tenancy agreement are collectively known as ‘Parties’ to the agreement.

Periodic Tenancy

Either Contractual Periodic whereby a tenancy is contracted by agreement to run from month to month, or Statutory Periodic which refers to when a fixed term comes to an end and the tenant remains, by agreement, in the property under the same terms and conditions as the original agreement and runs from month to month or quarter to quarter, depending upon the basis on which the rent is paid.

PCM

Refers to a Rental figure and stands for per calendar month.

Power of Attorney

A legal document giving a third party an absolute or limited right over the principal’s property and assets.

Premises

A part or parts of a building which may include boundaries, fences, gardens and outbuildings, belonging to the Landlord unless they have been specifically excluded from the Tenancy. When the Tenancy refers to part of a larger building, the Premises include the use of common access ways and facilities.

Prescribed Information

This refers to information which the Housing Act 2004 Sections 213 (5) – (6) and The Housing (Tenancy Deposits) (Prescribed Information) Order 2007 require to be provided to the tenant within 14 days of the deposit having been received.

Private Rented Sector

The industry concerned with the letting of residential property owned by private landlords.

Public Liability Insurance

An insurance policy that aims to protect members of the public who are injured or affected by an accident or occurrence.

References

Allows a Landlord to check a tenancy applicant’s suitability to be able to pay the rent and also the applicant’s track record in earlier rentals. This often involves contacting previous landlords, the present employer or accountant if self employed and bank.

Resident Landlord

Where the Landlord occupies part of the dwelling as his main or principle home and lets the rest of the property.

Ring fenced

Refers to money held in such a way that it can only be used for a specified purpose. So in the case of a tenancy deposit, it can be used only for the purposes set out in the tenancy agreement.

Sole Agent

When a single agent is instructed to undertake a sale or let.

Stamp Duty

The tenant is responsible for paying any Stamp Duty (SDLT Stamp Duty Land Tax). The starting point is currently is £120,000 in one agreement, therefore the rental (without any gardening / cleaning or other additions included) would be over £10,000 a month before Stamp Duty Land Tax is payable.

Standing order

Standing order mandate is an instruction that the tenant makes to their bank for payment of rent. Normally payments are made each month and the instruction will state the number of payments or will continue to be paid until cancelled by the tenant. A landlord or agent cannot cancel a standing order mandate, only the person whose bank account the fund are coming from. A standing order should not be confused with a Direct Debit, which is not often used for the payment of rent and is more common for payments that differ each month.

Statutory Obligations

Requirements and obligations placed on Landlords and/or their agents by Acts of Parliament i.e. Law of the Land.

Studio apartment/flat

A flat with a bedroom and living room all in one either with a separate kitchen or corner of the main room as a kitchen, with a separate bathroom and toilet.

Subject to Contract

Signifies that an agreement is not yet legally binding.

Sublet

The action of a tenant letting accommodation to be occupied by another person for a lesser term.

Superior Landlord

A person to whom the ownership of a property might revert to at a later stage, for example an apartment with a 99 year lease.

Superior Lease or Head Lease

The lease that the landlord holds, where the owner has a leasehold interest, but another individual owns the freehold. There is then a lease with the freehold under which the landlord is responsible for obligations/covenants. When a property is let out the tenant renting a property then also has to comply with any of these obligations – e.g. not to hang out washing on a balcony.

Tax Exemption

An exemption number issued by the Inland Revenue Office (FICO) to your agency approving the passing of rents to the customer without a tax deduction.

Tenant

A person, persons, company or organisation who is entitled to occupy a property under the terms and conditions of a tenancy agreement.

Tenancy agreement

A legal binding document containing details about rental terms that is sometimes referred to as a rental agreement. It will state the parties, i.e. the landlord and tenant(s), the rental price and the property address along with the Covenants/obligations of the let.

Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS)

Run by the Company for the protection of tenancy deposits and the resolution of disputes between landlords, agents and tenants concerning the return of deposits at the end of a tenancy. The TDS is a mandatory scheme that has been set up in accordance with the Housing Act 2004.

The Term of Tenancy

This refers to the length of a tenancy. Most initial tenancy agreements are for a minimum of six months, although they may be shorter and longer.

Termination

Refers to the ending of a tenancy.

To Clear Monies

Refers to the passing of money through the banking system, which ensures that money, other than cash or bankers’ drafts, is secure in your account and available for use.

Utilities

These are normally electricity, gas and water and may be referred to as services which, under most circumstances, the tenant is responsible for paying for.

Yield

Refers to income from a property calculated as a percentage of its value.