The Property Rental Jargon Buster


Confused by jargon in your rental contract? Allow our handy jargon buster to help you understand what your contract means. 

ARLA – The Association of Residential Lettings Agents. 

Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) – The most common type of private tenancy in the UK. Most ASTs run for an initial period of 6 to 12 months and the tenant is committed to paying rent on that property for at least the duration of the contract. 

Break Clause – A break clause may be included in the contract to allow either landlord or tenant to give two months written notice at any stage after a particular date or period of the tenancy, or stating a set time within the fixed terms where notice can be given by either the Landlord or the Tenant, thus terminating the tenancy earlier than the end of the original fixed term. Can also be known as a release clause. 

Check Out Process – When a tenant vacates a property they will usually receive a set of instructions regarding any steps that need to occur before leaving the property and an appointment is made for the inventory to be checked on the last day. The inventory will be checked against the initial inventory taken prior to the tenancy’s commencement. At a this point, the inventory clerk and the tenant will agree on any differences between inventories and the keys will be returned.

Clause  – Tenancy agreements are constructed from a number of clauses. These are the instructions and promises between the landlord and the tenant from which the tenancy agreement is constructed. 

Client Monies Account – If payment is not made directly to the landlord and instead goes via an agent, this is the account to which it is paid. This account is completely separate from that of the agent themselves and must be forwarded to the landlord within an agreed time period. 

Communal Areas  – Shared living space which no one has sole right over, such as hallways, stairwells and gardens. 

Contents Insurance  – Insurance to cover loss or damage to your own possessions within a property. 

Contract  – A document which is made between two parties and which binds both parties to complete the transaction.

Council Tax  – Local authority tax for England, Wales and Scotland. This is the tenants responsibility unless otherwise stated in the contract. 

Credit Reference – A credit search provides insight into your financial history to determine your financial behaviour including CCJs and defaults. 

Credit Referencing Fee – A charge for performing the above mentioned service. 

Covenants – The terms of the tenancy agreement, usually restrictive clauses such as not to allow pets in the property.

Damage Disputes  – When a dispute arises about who is responsible for property damage.

Data Protection / Data Protection Act – Under the Data Protection Act you have a right to access information that is being held about you by organisations and companies. These organisations and companies also have a responsibility under the Act to store and use that data in a responsible way.

Deposit – The sum of money paid to the landlord (or agent) of the property, which is returned at the end of the tenancy, subject to its condition.

Dilapidations – Disrepair or damage to a property the Tenant is responsible for.

Direct Debit – An arrangement made with a bank that allows a third party to transfer money from a person’s account on agreed dates, typically in order to pay bills.

DPS – Deposit Protection Service. Also known as a Client Money Protection Scheme. We’re a registered SAFEAgent, ensuring your money is protected at all times. 

Early Release – When a Tenant asks for permission to end a tenancy before its end date.

Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 – Governs the safety of electrical equipment provided by a Landlord.

Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) – Energy Performance Certificates are a compulsory set of tests which must be conducted on a property prior to letting in order for the applicant to see how energy efficient it is. You can view this information prior to renting a property and will receive a copy of it along with your tenancy agreement.

Eviction – Being removed from a property by a bailiff following the serving of a Possession Order.

Fixtures and Fittings – Items provided in a letting. Examples of this can be curtains, carpets, blinds, light fittings, kitchen units and appliances,

Furnishings – Furniture or other items provided by the landlord at the property. 

Fully Managed Service – A service provided by an agent to a landlord where the agent will undertake many aspects of the lettings process on behalf of the landlord including receiving the rent and being a point of contact for the tenant throughout the duration of the tenancy.

Gas Safety Regulations – This governs the safety of gas appliances and associated pipework.

Guarantor – A person who is prepared to guarantee rental payments and other obligations of a tenancy should the tenant not meet certain requirements to allow the tenancy to commence. 

Housing Benefit – A state benefit paid to people on low incomes to help them pay their rent.

Inventory and schedule of condition – A list detailing each item in the property including fixtures and fittings and the condition each listed item is in, checked by both parties upon moving in and out of a property.

Joint Tenancy – A tenancy where there are two or more tenants who have equal rights and responsibilities during a tenancy.

Landlord – A person who allows use of his/her property by another in exchange for rent and subject to conditions set out in a tenancy agreement or contract.

Let Agreed – A tenancy subject to contract has been agreed with the landlord.

‘Let as Seen’ – This means renting the property as it was seen at a viewing

Letting Agent – A person or company engaged to perform on behalf of the landlord, some or most of his/her duties to the tenants, in return for payment.

Liable – Legally responsible

Meter Readings – Data collection from meters which display the amount used of a utility such as electric, gas or water. This is completed at the start and end of a tenancy. 

NALS – National Approved Lettings Scheme

Notice – Notification by either party of any events such as the intention of ending a tenancy.

Ombudsman – An independent organisation that investigates professionals such as letting agents, or solicitors when complaints are made about them.

PCM – Per calendar month.

Penalties – A fee or charge for violating terms of the contract.

Possession Order – A legal document obtained from a magistrates court by a landlord to gain possession of a property from a tenant.

Quiet Enjoyment – All secure, assured and assured shorthold tenants have a statutory ‘Right to Quiet Enjoyment’. This means the tenant is entitled to the possession and enjoyment of the property without undue disturbance from the landlord (or a representative of the landlord) by acts that are likely to interfere with the peace and comfort of the tenant.

Rechargeable Repairs – Repairs carried out by a private landlord which the tenant must pay for. 

Reference – References obtained from the previous landlord regarding the tenant’s conduct and payment history. Can also apply to credit referencing. 

Rent – Payment made by a tenant at intervals as specified on the tenancy agreement in order to pay for occupying a property.

Rent Arrears – If you fall behind on your rent payments you are said to be in rent arrears. 

Repairs – Tenants should refer to their tenancy agreement to see whether they, or their landlord is responsible for carrying out a particular repair. 

Schedule of Condition – A Schedule of Condition is carried out in conjunction with the inventory in order to determine the condition including cleanliness of a property prior to the commencement of a tenancy.

Smoke Detectors Act 1991 – This act governs the necessity for hard wired smoke detectors to be installed in all newly built properties.

Tenancy Administration Fee – A fee collected by an agent working on behalf of a landlord in order to commence the necessary tasks to create a tenancy.

Tenancy Agreement – The tenancy agreement legally identifies the rights of both tenants and landlords by detailing all the terms and conditions of the rental arrangements. 

Tenancy Renewal Fee – A fee payable to the agent in order to obtain a renewal of the tenancy for a further term. This fee is usually split between the landlord and the tenant.

Tenant – The Tenant is the person legally entitled to temporary possession of a property.

TV Licence – A fee paid to the BBC for ownership of a television in a property.

Utility Bills – Electricity, gas and water bills. Tenants are responsible for their payment unless otherwise specified in their contract.

Wear and Tear – the day to day deterioration of a property through normal use.

White Goods – Appliances such as washing machines and fridges.