Renting a property can be a daunting exercise as there are contracts to be signed, reference checks to be performed, deposits to be paid etc. The anxiety that might be experienced when looking to rent a home can be exacerbated by some of the technical terms and “jargon” often used in the lettings industry and frequently found in tenancy agreements. To help new and existing tenants, we have put together an explanation of some of the common technical terms encountered and what the mean in everyday English.
Arrears – an amount of rent which is unpaid and overdue.
ARLA Propertymark - ARLA Propertymark is one of the UK’s foremost professional bodies for letting agents. ALRA works to raise professional standards among letting agents and promotes education and qualifications within the sector. Membership of ARLA would identify a high professional and technical standard of the letting agent.
Assured shorthold tenancy (AST) – the most commonly used rental agreement between the landlord and tenant. An AST covers a fixed period, usually of six to twelve months.
Break clause - a clause in a tenancy agreement that allows either the landlord or the tenant to give written notice after a particular date or period in order to end the tenancy earlier than the original fixed term.
Client Money Protection Insurance - insurance scheme that protects the rental money that a tenant pays their letting agent to ensure it is not used for inappropriate purposes.
Council Tax - a local authority tax that is normally the responsibility of the tenant to pay.
Credit references - references undertaken by a landlord (or the landlord’s agent) about a tenant applying to rent a property. Many agents and landlords use external companies, who will contact the applicant’s employer, previous landlord and undertake a check the tenant’s credit history. The purpose of the checks are to ensure that the tenant has the financial means to pay the rent and also has a history of paying rent on time.
Deposit – an amount paid by the tenant and held by the landlord (or agent) as security against damage to a property or a breach of the tenancy terms. The deposit must be protected by an approved tenancy deposit protection scheme - see below.
Deposit Protection Scheme (DPS) - A government-authorised scheme which requires a tenant’s deposit to be held by the DPS for the duration of the tenancy.
Dilapidations or damage – any part of the property or landlord fixtures that have been damaged during a tenancy that is over and above “wear and tear” (see below). The tenant is usually responsible for the cost of repair or replacement of any damaged items.
Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) - an EPC indeitifies the energy efficiency and running costs of the property to be rented. Landlords are required to supply tenants with an EPC at the start of a tenancy. Properties that are let should have a EPC rating of E or better (A-E). EPC's last for a period of 10 years.
Eviction - the process of removing a tenant from a property by a bailiff after the serving of a possession order issued by the courts.
Fixtures and fittings – items included in the tenancy that are owned by the landlord and may include curtains, carpets, blinds, kitchen units and any appliances supplied, sinks, toilets etc.
Gas safety certificate – for any property that has a gas supply, the landlord must provide an annual certificate to the tenant that confirms that all gas appliances, pipework and flues are safe.
Guarantor - someone who guarantees that they will pay the rent in the event that the tenants fails to make payment. The guarantor will sign the tenancy agreement.
Government’s Rental Guide - a guide issued by the Government to help landlords and tenants understand their rights and responsibilities. A copy can be obtained from the Government’s website. It is a requirement that landlords provide their tenants with a copy of the guide at the start of the tenancy.
Houses in Multiple Occupation – a property is a HMO if it has at least three tenants, comprising more than one household, and the tenants share facilities such as a bathroom, toilet or kitchen facilities.
Initial Term - the first/initial period of the tenancy.
Inventory – is a list of the contents and fixtures of a property that is rented. An inventory is usually performed at the start of the tenancy to record what is provided by the landlord and the condition of the property.
Landlord - The owner of the property that is being rented.
Letting and management agent - an agent appointed by the landlord to find a tenant and/or manage the property during the period of the tenancy. Where the landlord uses a lettings and management agent, the agent will manage the relationship between the tenant and the landlord and will be the principal point of contract for the tenant throughout the rental term.
Notice Period - a period of time stipulated in the tenancy agreement that the tenant or landlord must give to end the tenancy agreement.
Periodic Tenancy - a tenancy that continues for successive periods until notice is given to end the tenancy. When an Assured Shorthold Tenancy ends, it becomes a periodic tenancy unless the tenant signs a renewal agreement.
Prescribed Information – information that the landlord is legally obliged to give the tenant, such as information regarding the tenancy deposit scheme used and other specified tenancy related information.
Redress scheme - Lettings and management agents are required to join a government authorised redress scheme. The scheme gives tenants the right to refer to the scheme any matter that they do not believe has been dealt with appropriately by the agent.
Reference - referencing - the process of vetting potential tenants by landlords or their agents. Reference checking might include employment checks and checks with the tenant’s current landlord.
Right to rent check - landlords or their agents are required to check that all tenants that will occupy a property are legally allowed to reside in the country. The landlord must not proceed with the letting if the tenant fails a right to rent check.
Renewal - the renewal of an Assured Shorthold Tenancy for a further fixed term.
Tenancy - use and possession of a property by a tenant under the terms and conditions of a lease.
Tenancy agreement - the contract between the landlord and tenant that sets out the terms and conditions of the use of the property by the tenant and the rights and obligations of both parties.
Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) – a government insurance scheme that protects tenants deposits and provides a dispute resolution service between landlords and tenants that concerns the amount of the deposit that should be returned at the end of a tenancy. The landlord (or their agent) must register a deposit received from a tenant with one of the Government backed schemes within 30 days of the deposit being paid.
Tenant - the person occupying the property under the terms of the lease or tenancy agreement.
Subletting - when a tenant lets all or part of the rented property to someone else.
Unauthorised sub-letting - when a tenant sub-lets a property without the permission of the landlord and thereby breaches the terms of the tenancy agreement.
Wear and tear – an amount of gradual damage due to the normal use of the property over a period of time.
Want to know more?
Read the answers to questions we are frequently asked by tenants.
Learn more about the process of applying to rent through Aspire Residential.
Learn more about applying to rent with a poor credit history.