Property Letting Jargon Buster

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  • Property Letting Jargon Buster


Feeling baffled by your contract or bemused by the rental details? Sometimes, lettings terminology can get confusing. Therefore, we’ve put together this handy list of commonly used jargon – explaining what it really means.


  • ARLA.

The Association of Residential Letting Agents is the regulatory body for monitoring (and supporting) letting agents in the UK –

  • Arrears.

Have you not yet paid the rent that you owe? That’s what we call arrears. This might be the full amount or just a part of what’s owed.

  • Assured shorthold tenancy.

This is the most common type of tenancy. It means you’re protected under The Housing Act 1988, and usually applies to all tenancies with a rent amount below £100,000 per year. The tenancy will be for six months or longer.

  • Bailiffs. 

Fortunately, most tenants never have to deal with a bailiff. These people are officers of court and have the right to collect debts or repossess goods to pay for outstanding debts.

  • Boiler Breakdown.

Please see our trouble shooting guide.

  • Covenants.

These are the terms and conditions concerning the property you’re moving into.

  • Credit search references.

Some letting agents (and landlords) will use specialist referencing companies to find out more about your credit history and employment. This is to check that you can afford to pay the rent, and that you’re reliable!

  • Deposit.

It’s standard practice for landlords to request an upfront deposit payment. It’s their legal responsibility to put this into a government-approved account, then return it once the tenancy period is over (unless of course you owe them money in unpaid rent or damage to the property). We have previously written an article regarding Unpaid rent when vacating at the end of the term, click here.

  • Fixed tenancy.

This type of tenancy runs for a pre-agreed period, which is outlined in the contract. Usually, this is six months or a year.

  • Guarantor.

Sometimes the contract will state that you need a guarantor. This is someone who promises to pay the rent if you’re unable to do so for any reason.

  • HMO.

Stands for house of multiple occupancy. It applies to houses that have three or more unrelated tenants living in them, and with a shared bathroom, kitchen and living area.

  • Inventory.

This is a list of all the contents within the property you’re renting. It can be quite detailed (e.g. outlining condition of a fixture or fitting) and may also list items in the garden. You’ll need to check this inventory carefully – as it can be used as a legal document if something gets damaged in the future.

  • NALS. 

The National Approved Letting Scheme gives you peace of mind that you’re working with a company that has defined customer service standards.

  • Periodic tenancy.

Periodic tenancies roll from one week to the next (or sometimes from month to month).

  • Renewal of contracts.

Once the original contract has expired, you’ll have the opportunity to renew the contract (possibly with new terms).

  • Short let.

This type of tenancy usually lasts less than six months.

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