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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google-review Review
17:30 22 Feb 24
Have been very accommodating and helpful when calling agents. They have been very helpful in being able to secure a house for students.
16:42 21 Feb 24
Went above and beyond to get things sorted for me
Brittany Stace
Brittany Stace
11:18 24 Jan 24
Harringtons have been incredibly helpful and supportive of us as new renters and they have been super efficient in getting all of the documents sent through and signed in such a short period of time. Thank you!
Georgie Prebble
Georgie Prebble
20:36 05 Jan 24
Jade Innes
Jade Innes
10:24 04 Jan 24
So far the service has been good. The staff are very friendly and quick to respond to any questions and requests.
Polly Smith
Polly Smith
11:17 28 Dec 23
we chose this letting agents as they chose a good bills company that is much cheaper than other agents. When viewing houses the staff were very friendly and have been very helpful in answering our questions and making the process as easy as possible.
Emma Howe
Emma Howe
16:06 14 Nov 23
I would rate Harringtons Lettings a 5/5. Very lovely on the phone and very quick and easy to communicate with via email. Any problems have been resolved in no time at all. So far so good!I found Harringtons via Rightmove.
Akwisitions Feedback
Akwisitions Feedback
16:25 30 Oct 23
Very responsive and super helpful throughout the process. Highly recommended!
Chloe Ballard
Chloe Ballard
17:28 02 Oct 23
Although I have only been renting with Harringtons for a short period of time, I have had nothing but a positive experience. From viewing to admin updates. The admin team especially are very polite and quick to respond and I have no doubt that the rest of my tenancy will run smoothly. I would recommend to anyone considering renting in brighton.
Matthew Ball
Matthew Ball
11:46 19 Sep 23
Professional communication with tenant although entirely impersonal. There was a bigger disconnect in their communication with the landlord in most cases, which seemed to be either slow or non-existent (discovered after contacting the landlord directly).Property was full of spider webs on day 1 despite apparently being professionally cleaned. Took a day off of work to clean it on move out day, leaving it cleaner than when it received but still had to pay part of the deposit for professional cleaning.It has been a while since I have rented, but I'll avoid letting agencies completely now if this is anything close to the average renting experience.
Ronan SK
Ronan SK
12:38 12 Sep 23
Great professionalism/communciation from the start up until the end of my tenancy. Definitely set the standards for what agencies should be like. Highly recommend to those within Brighton.
Daniel Sutton
Daniel Sutton
10:29 24 Aug 23
I have rented with Harringtons Lettings before and have always found the agents to be quick, efficient, friendly and helpful. I loved their service so much I have chosen to rent with Harringtons again. Faultless 😊
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