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Glossary of Terms

A

ARLA Registered

ARLA (The Association of Residential Lettings Agents). This will be an agent that is governed by the UK’s professional body for letting agents that was set up in 1981 in order to regulate the lettings process in the UK by making sure that all of their members follow a strict code of practice. Although it is not compulsory for a letting agent to register with ARLA as a consumer it does offer some reassurance. To see more on the organisation and the benefits of using an ARLA registered agent please see www.arla.co.uk/about-arla.aspx.

AST (Assured Shorthold Tenancy)

An assured shorthold tenancy is a kind of assured tenancy, which offers the landlord a guaranteed right to repossess his/her property at the end of the term.

Agent

A letting – rent collection – management – estate agent or other duly authorised person (or company / organisation) who is acting on behalf of the landlord.

Application Fee

This is a fee paid to the agent to cover things like the cost of preparing the tenancy agreement, checking references, making up the inventory and any other costs associated with setting up the tenancy. Many agencies will charge you for renewing your tenancy agreement once it expires. Please note that the application fee in non-refundable.

You should not be charged for arranging or attending a property viewing property.

B

Break Clause

Also referred to as a Release Clause. This is a clause sometimes inserted in a fixed term tenancy, typically if the initial fixed term is for a year or more. It will not normally be applicable during the first six months of an Assured Shorthold Tenancy. If the initial tenancy is renewed either party will often request a break clause if they do not know if the can continue renting or not. A break clause will usually be worded in such a way as to 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

C

Catchment area

The designated area from which people are allocated to a particular school or hospital etc.

Council Tax

Local authority tax for England, Wales and Scotland. In most cases this will be the responsibility of a tenant to pay.

Covenants

The terms of the tenancy agreement – obligations - “promises” made by either Landlord or Tenant.

Credit Search References

References taken up on a tenant applying for rented accommodation. Many agents and individual landlords use an outside company who for a fee will contact the applicant’s employer, landlord and also check out the tenant’s credit history. They will be providing a report on the prospective tenant’s financial suitability.

D

Damp & Condensation

When warm air comes into contact with a cold surface, water in the air will condense forming droplets of water on the surface. This is known as condensation. If left, the excess water will cause the area to become damp and as a result mould spores will begin to grow on surfaces. This poses a risk to health and can cause irrepairable damage to walls and furniture.

Deposit

Amount of money held by the landlord or agent for security against damage. In Britain approximately the equivalent to six week rental is held. In April 2007 a new system has been introduced in England and Wales for Assured Shorthold Tenancies. The Tenancy deposit scheme is a mixture of custodial and insurance backed deposit holding mechanism. The landlord or agent has to register the tenancy details within 14 days of the start. If an agent is holding the deposit it must be held as "stakeholder". At the end of the tenancy the tenant has to be notified of any deductions within a given time.

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.

E

EPC (Energy Performance Certificate)

An EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) gives a property an energy efficiency rating from A (most efficient) to G (least efficient) and is valid for 10 years. The certificate provides information about a property’s energy use and typical energy costs and also recommendations about how to reduce energy use and save money.

Electrical safety certificate

Landlords have a legal obligation to ensure that all electrical fittings are safe and in a good working order. An electrical safety certificate shows the landlord has taken reasonable steps to ensure that all electrical fittings are safe (for appliances refer to PAT Testing).

F

Fixtures and Fittings

Items usually provided in a letting – curtains, carpets, blinds, light fittings, kitchen units, appliances, (in the case of some lettings there will beds, chairs, tables and other items of fixtures and fittings provided). It is advisable to always check as to what is provided and not to assume that items will be provided.

G

Gas Safety Regulations

The Landlord of a rented property must have a gas safety check carried out prior to a let and then annually. A copy of the record must be given to the tenant. An authorised CORGI Registered engineer can only carry out the check.

Gas safety certificate

By law, landlords must have all gas appliances serviced regularly, normally once a year by a Gas safe registered engineer. Landlords must be able to provide their tenants with an up-to-date Gas Safety record.

Guarantor

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

H

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 – tenant pulling out – references not acceptable this is then often retained by the agent. Assuming the tenancy proceeds, then the amount is normally deducted from the first months rental/ deposit.

I

Inventory

Listing of the contents of a property. This can include the state and condition of a property including the garden, the state of a property – clean – dirty etc and also the structural fixtures and fittings – power points – windows etc. They should be checked in with the tenant at the start of the tenancy and then checked out with the tenant at the end. It is more and m ore usual that a professional inventory clerk is employed.

L

Landlord

Is a person, persons, company or body that has a formal interest in the premises and has the right to let the property.

Letting Agent

A Letting agent is a business which leases properties on behalf of their owners.

Letting Agent - Professional bodies abbreviations

A letting agent may be an approved member of a professional body. It shows the agent has agreed to a voluntary code of conduct and professional standards. The main profesional Bodies are: National Approved Lettings Scheme (NALS), Association of Residential Letting Agnets (ARLA), UK Association of Letting Agents (UKALA), National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA).

P

PCM

Rental figure “pcm” – per calendar month.

Portable appliance testing (PAT)

Portable appliance testing (commonly known as "PAT", "PAT Inspection" or as "PAT Testing") is the name of a process by which electrical appliances are routinely checked for safety.

Primary School

A primary school is a school in which children receive primary education from the age of about five to eleven, coming before secondary school and after preschool.

R

References

Checking a tenant 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 (banks normally charge for providing references) See also Credit search references.

Renewal

After completion of your assured shorthold tenancy agreement (usually 6 months) the landlord may give you the option to extend your contract, this is known as a renewal. The letting agent may charge a renewal fee to complete the paperwork.

Right to Rent Check

A check carried out to confirm that a tenant or lodger can legally rent residential property in England. Anyone over the age of 18 renting property in the UK must now be checked by law.

S

Seconday school

A secondary school is a school in which children receive secondary education usually between the ages of eleven to eighteen, coming before college and after primary school.

Service Charges

Service charges are fees that most leaseholders pay to cover their share of the cost of maintaining the building they live in. Service charges usually cover the costs of:

  • repairs to communal areas and the structure of the building, such as roof, windows, pipes, drains
  • buildings insurance
  • freeholders' administration or management charges

They can also be used to pay for shared services such as cleaners and the maintenance of communal gardens.

Studio Apartment/Flat

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

T

Tenancy Agreement

This is a legal binding document containing details about the rental terms. Sometimes known as a rental agreement. It will state the parties – landlord – tenants the rental price and the property address along with the “Covenants” / obligations (promises) of the let. It should be written in plain clear language.

Tenancy deposit scheme

Your landlord must put your deposit in a government-backed tenancy deposit scheme (TDP) if you rent your home on an assured shorthold tenancy that started after 6 April 2007. In England and Wales your deposit can be registered with:

They make sure you’ll get your deposit back if you:

  • meet the terms of your tenancy agreement
  • don’t damage the property
  • pay your rent and bills

Your landlord or letting agent must put your deposit in the scheme within 30 days of getting it.

Tenant

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

The Term of Tenancy

Length of tenancy - most initial tenancy agreements are for a minimum of six months, they can be shorter and longer.

U

Utilities

Or Services - These are normally electricity, gas and water. Under most circumstances the tenant is responsible for paying for these.