The lettings world is peppered with phrases that can be confusing.

However, failing to understand the meanings behind rental regulations can land you in hot water, so don’t let key phrases get lost in translation.

Our comprehensive A to Z of the ‘Language of Lettings’ gives you a complete guide to the top phrases you need to know, helping you get fluent in landlord lingo!

A

Agent: Someone like Howsy, acting on behalf of the landlord who may be involved in the letting, rent collection, management

Arrears: Money left unpaid by a tenant after the date given in the tenancy agreement

Article 4: An Article 4 direction is a planning change which can be placed on an area, which means landlords will need planning permission if they hope to change a property from a Class C3 dwelling (standard ‘one family’ home) to a Class C4 dwelling – an HMO.

AST (Assured Shorthold Tenancy): The most common form of tenancy arrangement. An assured shorthold tenancy offers the landlord a guaranteed right to repossess his/her property at the end of the term stated in the tenancy agreement. You can download a Howsy AST template here.

B

Break Clause: Usually included within a tenancy agreement, a break clause will usually allow either landlord or tenant to give 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.

Buy-to-Let Mortgage: A type of mortgage specifically designed for people buying a property with the intention of letting it out. Applicants are subject to the same level of testing as residential mortgages.

C

Council Tax: A local authority tax, which is usually the responsibility of the resident to pay, except in the case of HMO’s where the responsibility usually falls to the landlord.

Covenants: Rules and regulations governing a property, contained in its Title Deeds or Lease.

D

Deposit: A pre-agreed amount of money taken by the landlord or agent for security against damage to a property. The landlord or agent must protect the deposit with one of the official Government-backed schemes within 30 days of receipt and should supply anyone who has contributed to the deposit with all of the scheme’s prescribed information within that same window. At the end of the tenancy the tenant has to be notified of any deductions.

Duty of Care: An obligation to provide the correct advice regarding lettings and ensure the well being and safety of those who may visit the property.

E

Energy Performance Certificate (EPC): An EPC is a document showing a property’s energy use and typical energy costs, with ratings ranging from from A (best) to G (worst). It is a legal requirement for every rental property to have one, and no property can be let without a rating of E or above. You can find out more here.

F

Fair Wear and Tear: Fair wear and tear is damage that naturally and inevitably occurs as a result of normal wear or aging. Worn carpets, faded soft furnishings, décor needing a refresh are all issues that naturally occur in the course of daily life lived in a property (just like in your own home), and would be classed as fair wear and tear. It is unlikely that a deposit scheme would grant deductions based on these issues.

Fitness for Human Habitation Act: A piece of legislation created in 2018, that ensures landlords provide a property fit for human habitation, and gives tenants powers to take legal action against landlords for failing to adequately maintain a property.

Furnished / Part-furnished / Unfurnished: A fully furnished rental property generally includes all white goods and basic furniture (sofa, dining table and chairs, beds, wardrobes). Part-furnished usually includes white goods and large furniture, such as beds and wardrobes, Unfurnished is usually completely empty, with the potential to remove these should the tenant choose. Unfurnished is usually completely empty.

G

Gas Safety Regulations: The landlord must ensure that a gas safety check is carried out prior to a let and then annually after that. An authorised registered engineer must carry out the check and a copy of the record must also be given to the tenant within 28 days. More details are available here.

Ground Rent: The annual fee levied by the leaseholder to the freeholder.

Guarantor: A tenant may sometimes require someone to guarantee that they can pay their rent. This person is called a guarantor. A guarantor is someone who agrees to pay the rent on behalf of the tenant if they are unable to meet payments, this is usually agreed in writing when the tenancy agreement is signed.

H

Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS): HHSRS is the risk-based rating system used by local authorities to assess the safety of a home when they attend to inspect. It is based on 29 hazards, ranging from damp to excess heat. You can find full details of HHSRS here.

HMO: House in multiple occupation, refers to bedsits or flats which normally offer a self-contained room with either cooking facilities in the room, a shared kitchen or shared bathroom and toilet facilities. Under the Housing Act 2004 it will cover any property occupied by more than one household that is a converted building even if the flats are not self-contained.

Household Insurance: An insurance policy that protects against loss or damage to the property caused by fire, natural causes or acts of vandalism. Most tenancy agreements require this to be taken out by the tenant.

How to Rent Booklet: This government produced guide designed to help tenants understand their rental rights and responsibilities, must be issued to tenants before the start of a tenancy. Failure to issue this document (along with a gas safety certificate and EPC) could mean that a landlord is unable to evict their tenant using a Section 21 notice should they need to. You can download the How to Rent Guide here.

I

Inventory: An inventory is a detailed report of the condition and contents of a property when your tenant takes it over. This document, which can include images and video, is referred to at the end of the tenancy as a guide to any changes to the condition of the property, and can be used to evidence any damage or change in condition.  The Deposit Adjudication process usually relies on a good inventory as evidence of the prior and current condition of a property when awarding deposit deductions, and without one you risk not being able to claim any deductions should you need to.

J

Joint Tenants: If more than one tenant is named on a tenancy, the tenants are considered joint tenants.

Joint and Several liability: If your tenants are joint tenants, they have joint and several liability for the tenancy. This means that all or any tenants can be held equally responsible for any damage or rent arrears caused by any of the named tenants.

L

Lease: A legal document by which the freehold (or leasehold) owner of a property lets the premises or a part of it to another party for a specified length of time, after the expiry of which ownership may revert to the freeholder or superior leaseholder.

Leasehold: Land or property held under a lease.

Legionella / Legionnaires’ Disease: Legionnaires’ disease is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia caused by the inhalation of small droplets of contaminated water containing Legionella. You can read more about landlord responsibility here,

Licensing: HMO licenses are a key requirement for landlords who own HMOs, a mandatory license for large HMOs (five or more people living in two or more households) or an additional licence for a small HMO (three to four tenants living in two or more households). Selective licensing schemes are also in operation in some parts of the UK, which apply to all landlords within a geographical area. Check your local council website for details of any licensing schemes active in your area.

Let Agreed: Let agreed is the term used when a landlord is in discussions with a potential tenant, who they hope will be the perfect fit for their property. Negotiations/referencing will be underway, and the property is likely to not be being viewed by any further potential tenants. You can read more here.

M

Management: there are plenty of options available for landlords, but more and more are choosing a fully managed service, like Howsy’s, to make sure every job is done and there is no stress! A fully managed option ensures that every step of the way your property is maintained, your rent collected and your tenants looked after. At Howsy, we find you the perfect tenant, deal with every bit of paperwork, oversee every legal requirement and handle maintenance issue for you – management at its most effective. You can find out more here.

Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES): Since April 2018, MEES rules mean a landlord cannot renew or grant a new tenancy if their property has an EPC rating of F or G. The minimum standard is likely to rise further from it’ current E rating to a D by 2025 and a C rating by 2030. There are a number of steps landlords can take to make changes to their EPC rating to comply with MEES, further details are available here.

P

Peppercorn Ground Rent: A nominal periodic rent usually paid annually.

Periodic Tenancy: Once the original fixed-term of a tenancy has expired, (unless a new fixed-term is decided upon), all tenancies automatically roll over onto periodic tenancies. A periodic tenancy continues indefinitely until either the landlord or tenant gives notice.  There are pros and cons to a periodic tenancy, read more about them here.

Prescribed Information: This refers to information which must be provided to anyone who has contributed to the deposit within 30 days of the deposit having been received. It includes: the amount of the deposit, the address of the property, the name, address and contact details of the administrator of the tenancy deposit scheme, and the name, address and contact details of the landlord and tenants and any third parties who have contributed to the deposit

Public Liability Insurance: Insurance which covers injury or death to anyone on or around your property.

R

Referencing: Referencing is a series of checks looking into a tenant’s financial, employment and renting history, assessing viability to take on a property. Usually undertaken by a referencing agency, these checks can also be carried out on the tenant’s guarantor, to clarify their financial suitability to take on the responsibility of guaranteeing the tenant’s rent.

Rent Guarantee insurance: An insurance product available to landlords designed to provide cover for if your tenant defaults and fails to pay the rent.

Right to Rent: All private landlords in England have a responsibility to carry out right to rent checks on anyone over 18 living in their property. The check is designed to ensure that the individual has a legal right to be living in the UK.

S

Section 8: A section 8 notice is a document used to terminate an AST when a tenant has breached the tenancy agreement. More details on how a section 8 notice can be used, and the procedure can be found here.  

Section 21: A section 21 notice is a no-fault eviction notice with a two month notice period, which can be used when there has been no breach of tenancy agreement. There are plans for Section 21 notices to be scrapped in a bid to make renting more secure for tenants, leaving landlords reliant on Section 8 notices if possession is required.   

Section 13: A section 13 notice is the notice required to be served if a landlord is looking to increase rent and has not included details of the increase in the tenancy agreement.  

Stamp Duty Land Tax: When an individual purchases a property in the UK, they pay stamp duty. Landlords purchasing a property to let pay an additional 3% stamp duty on top of the standard rates, however properties valued at £40,000 or less do not attract the surcharge.

T

Tenancy Agreement: A key document, your tenancy agreement is key to ensuring the safety of both landlord and tenant. Outlining the requirements of both parties, as well as information about the property, the document provides all the vital information needed to help ensure the tenancy progresses smoothly. You can download a free tenancy agreement template here.

Tenant Fee Ban: Introduced on June 1st, 2019, the Tenant Fee Ban legislation came in to force in England in a bid to clamp down on unfair charges being levied against tenants. Landlords and letting agents are no longer able to charge additional fees that are not ‘Permitted Payments’ under the new legislation. You can read more about the act here.

Y

Yield: Profit from a property calculated as a percentage of its value.

Z

Zero deposits: As part of the Tenant Fee Ban, a deposit cap of five weeks was introduced. Many landlords were keen to explore alternative methods of protecting their properties, and helping keep the price of renting down for tenants. Howsy is passionate about revolutionising the rental market, and has a great scheme designed to turn traditional deposit methods on their head. Howsy Club provides all the security of a traditional deposit for landlords, but with no upfront cost for tenants. There’s loads more great features too – you can find out more here.  

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