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Commonly Used Terms

Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST): This is the agreement that explains tenant and landlords rights and responsibilities and is the most common form of tenancy agreement in the UK.

Arrears: Money unpaid by the tenant in whole or in part after the due date specified in the tenancy agreement.

Break clause: A clause that may be included in a tenancy agreement allowing either party to follow a set procedure to break the agreement.

Buy to let: A scheme for investment landlords to finance and purchase a property to be let.

Building insurance: This is an insurance taken out by the landlord or freeholder of a property to protect it from risks such as fire or storm damage.

Cable: Cable provides additional TV channels through companies such as Sky, Virgin and British Telecom.

Central heating: This provides homes with the warmth they need in the UK. Most homes are heated by gas central heating, some by electric and a minority use oil. Thermostats in the UK should be set to a minimum of 15 degrees centigrade.

Check-in: This is the process of settling a tenant into a rental property for the first time. The check-in process should include an inventory that describes in detail the condition of the property prior to the tenant moving in.

Check-out: This is the process of moving the tenant out of the property and includes making sure the property is being returned in the same condition as it was originally let to the tenant at check-in.

Client Money Protection (CMP): An insurance scheme that covers any money handled by your letting agent, whether you are a landlord, tenant or other client. Provided by professional bodies such as NALS.

Consents: This is permission given by various parties during letting a property. For example landlords securing consent from the mortgage lender and insurance company to let the property or tenants giving consent for referencing checks.

Contents insurance: This is insurance that a tenant should consider to protect their belongings such as furniture, jewellery, pictures and items of value against fire, damage and theft. You should request that it includes cover to re-house you in the event of fire or flood damage rendering the let property uninhabitable.

Contractors: This is a generic term given to service people who would typically work on your property such as electricians, plumbers, gas engineers or builders.

Council tax: This is a tax charged to the person living in the property such as the tenant (or property owner if the property is empty). It is a contribution to local services such as police, waste collection and the fire service. The council tax varies depending on the property’s value and is set annually by the individual local authority and paid monthly.

Common household: Where a residential property is self contained and shared as a whole house by two or more tenants. The tenants are usually jointly and severally liable under the tenancy.

Contractual obligation: A binding obligation imposed on a party to a contract and which, if not complied with, breaches the contract.

Contractual term: A fixed period of time stated in a contract or agreement as being the time for which the contract will last.

Customer: Our customer is the landlord. They sign the contract with us and we act for them.

Deposit: A sum of money agreed between the parties and paid to the landlord or his agent by the tenant as security for the satisfactory completion of the tenancy, its terms and as a guarantee of performance.

Dilapidation: Damage or excess ‘wear and tear’ to a property or contents.

Due diligence: A process in the performance of your duties to the generally accepted professional standard.

Duty of care: An obligation you owe to others, in particular landlords and tenants, to provide the correct advice regarding lettings and to ensure the well being and safety of all those who visit the property.

Execute (a tenancy): The procedure to complete a legally valid tenancy by dating the original (signed by the landlord) and the counterpart (signed by the tenant) and then exchanging them. The date is legally considered to be the date on which the agreement was made.

Energy Performance Certificate (EPC): This is a legally required assessment of how energy efficient a residential property is. It is valid for 10 years and is required for all properties that are advertised for sale or rent unless the property is a listed building.

Extension or renewal of tenancy: This is where a tenancy due to come to an end can be extended or renewed with the consent of both the landlord and the tenant.  Extensions and renewals may include a change in rent.

Furniture and furnishings (Fire Safety): This is a regulation that was introduced to prevent landlords providing furniture and furnishings to tenants that were not fire resistant.  It specifies what fire resistant furnishings a landlord has to provide to a tenant in a property.

Freeholder: Freeholder (or superior landlord). With leasehold property, there will be a superior landlord and/or a freeholder who owns the land on which the building stands and who has ultimate responsibility for the building itself.

Gas safety registered: The trade organisation for registered gas fitters.

Gas safety certificate: This is a legally required certificate which needs to be renewed on an annual basis to ensure any appliance such as a boiler or a gas fire is operating safely in the property. Gas safety checks must be carried out by a ‘Gas Safe’ engineer

Grounds for possession: The reasons for applying to the courts for repossession of a property and the basis of a case.

Guarantor: A third party who undertakes to be responsible in whole or part for the obligations of a tenant who subsequently breaches a tenancy agreement, by means of deed or enjoining on the tenancy agreement.

Handover: When tenants are allowed occupation of a property.

Head landlord: A person or organisation that owns the freehold of a property that has been let out (and may be sub-let).

Housing Act Tenancy: Currently applied only to tenancies that fall within the scope of the Housing Act 1988 & Housing Act 1996.

Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO): Licensed HMO’s – require a licence to be operated legally – this is a definition of a property which is rented to at least five tenants who form more than two households who share toilet, bathroom, kitchen and other facilities and the property is located over three floors or more, (this can include a commercial premises on the ground floor). You can also have an unlicensed HMO.  All HMO’s are required to meet special regulations. Contact Evans & Company Lettings or the local council to find out more about the rules and regulations of HMO’s in your area.

Identity checks: These are checks that a letting agent should make on both landlords and tenants to ensure they are who they say they are. Examples include passport, driving licence, bank statements and utility bills of a previous address you have lived at for three or more years. The money laundering regulations govern these checks that an agent is obligated to carry out.

Instruction manuals: All properties which have appliances such as a dishwasher or cooker should have an instruction manual that explains how the appliance works. These manuals must be left in the property when you checkout.

Initial term: This describes the first term period of the tenancy.

Inventory: An inventory is a list made prior to the letting, detailing all fixtures, fittings and free standing articles. This should incorporate a ‘Schedule of Condition’.

Jointly and severally: A legal expression where two or more persons are held responsible under one tenancy. Each can be held responsible for the whole of the tenancy as well as his share.

Joint agency or multiple agency: This gives you the choice of using more than one estate agent and you only pay the agent that sells or introduces the buyer to the property.

Law of Contract: Law of Contract Tenancy/ Tenancies outside the scope of the Housing Acts of 1988 and 1996 and subject to the standard provisions of contracts.

Lease: A legal estate for a term of years. The lease sets out the rights and responsibilities of both parties.

Leasehold consent: Owners of property, which is ‘leasehold’, may find that their lease requires them to apply for consent to sublet from their head landlord.

Lessee: The tenant.

Lessor: The landlord.

Managing Agent: A professional person or company responsible under an agency agreement for the maintenance and management of the property.

Meter readings: Every property has their gas and electricity usage measured on a daily basis. Some properties have their water usage measured too. Meter readings have to be taken on the day the tenant moves in and the day they move out. This helps to avoid disputes once the tenant has left.

Money laundering regulations: These are regulations that mean we are required to make checks on potential landlords and tenants to make sure the property and any rent is being paid from legitimate sources. Contact your local office for more information about money laundering regulations.

Multiple occupation: A property occupied by more than one tenant and not used as a single home e.g. individual and private rooms which may be locked but where tenants share facilities. Also, any residential property that is occupied by separate tenants under individual agreements.

Non-Housing Act: Residential tenancies which do not meet the criteria of the Housing Act 1988 and Tenancies Act 1996 are collectively known as Non-Housing Act Tenancies.

NRL 1: Non-residence Landlord Scheme form which is sent to the Inland Revenue.

Notices: Formal written statements to a party to a tenancy specifying certain statements and proposals. Formal documents issued at certain points during a tenancy.

Occupancy rights: Contained within the tenancy agreement giving the tenant right to occupancy of the property.

Owner occupier: The person who owns the property who is, has been and will be living in the property as his sole or principle residence (relevant to Ground 1).

Parties: Landlord and tenant (and possibly a guarantor) who come together to sign a tenancy agreement. They are collectively known as ‘The Parties’ to the agreement.

Portable Appliance Testing (PAT): This is testing for electrical goods within a property to make sure they are safe, for example a microwave, lamp or kettle. These tests should be carried out by a competent person. Contact your local office for more information about PAT.

Periodic tenancy: Either contractual periodic – a tenancy which is contracted by agreement to run from month to month or statutory periodic – when a fixed term comes to an end and the tenant remains, by agreement, in the property under the same terms and conditions as the original agreement and runs from month to month or quarter to quarter, depending upon the basis on which the rent is paid.

Power of attorney: A legal document giving a third party an absolute or limited right over the principal’s property and assets.

Public liability insurance:
An insurance policy designed to protect members of the public injured or affected by an accident or occurrence.

Resident landlord: Where the landlord occupies part of the dwelling as his main or principle home and lets the rest of it.

Schedule of condition: This describes the state of fixtures and fittings and free standing articles and that of the property itself.

Social housing: Mainly Local Authority, Housing Association or Trust property.

Sole agency: When selling you will only use one estate agent as your ‘Sole Agent’ and they are the agent you pay when the property is sold.

Sole Agency period: This is the minimum period of time you commit to with your estate agent this period is typically 8-12 weeks; during this period you cannot use any other estate agent.

Stakeholder: A third party or agent whose responsibility is to hold the deposit and distribute at the end of the agreement by mutual consent.

Stamping tenancy: Required under the Stamps Act 1891. On payment of duty, the amount of money detailed in the Act, due to the Inland Revenue.

Statutory obligations: Requirements and obligations placed on landlords and/or their agents by Acts of Parliament – i.e. Law of the Land.

Subject to contract: A Legal term placed as a heading on pre-contract letters to make it clear in law that the contents of that document do not constitute a contract.

Sublet: The action of a tenant in letting the accommodation to be occupied by another person for a lesser term.

Tax: This is calculated by HM Revenue and Customs in the UK. Under the Income and Corporation Tax Act 1988 we are obliged to disclose the details of the names, addresses and rental income received for all landlords for whom we act on behalf of. We will require confirmation of your residency status for UK tax purposes as well as being the legal owner of the property. For more help and advice on taxes, we suggest you contact an accountant or property tax specialist.

Tenancy agreements: These are the legal documents, which agree the terms and conditions of letting a property between a landlord and tenant. The agreement explains the rent to be paid, the date it should be paid, the rights and responsibilities of a landlord and tenant and under what circumstances the agreement can be terminated.

Tenancy Deposit Scheme (for assured short hold tenancies): This is a government backed scheme which requires by law the tenants deposit to be protected either with a third party company or via insurance.

Termination of tenancy: A tenancy may be terminated i.e. the tenant moves out in accordance with the terms of the agreement. Contact your local office if you have any queries about terminating your tenancy.

Tradesman: These are people who carry out repairs or maintenance on a property including plumbers, electricians or builders.

Term: The period shown in the Tenancy Agreement as the length of the letting.

Term of contract: An expression referring to stipulated rights or responsibilities expressed in a contract.

To clear monies: To pass through the banking system. To ensure money, other than cash or bankers’ drafts, is secure in your account and available for use

Utilities: These are services provided to the property such as electric, gas and water.  Electricity and gas may be supplied by the same company and water will be supplied by only one company at a local level.

Valuation: This is the price provided as a matter of opinion.

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