Renting and buying a property can be stressful at the best of times, and the use of ‘jargon’ can make the process more of a headache than it needs to be. There is an enormous amount of complicated terminology and unusual expressions that will leave you googling every word of your contract. Our jargon buster will help you make sense of the property lingo that you come into contact with, and have you speaking like a property expert before you know it.



Agreement in Principle (AIP)

Provided by a mortgage lender stating the amount they are prepared to lend. This will help prove to a seller that a prospective buyer can afford the property and is serious about purchasing.



An estimate of the current value of a property given by an estate agent or surveyor.


ARLA Propertymark

Formally known as the Association of Residential Letting Agents, ARLA is a professional body for letting agents that sets and regulates the level of expected professionalism.


Asking Price

The price a seller is hoping to achieve for their home. 



To transfer the interest, right, or claim of a property from one party to another.


Assure Shorthold Tenancy (AST)

The most common type of tenancy agreement in the UK, giving the tenant the right to live in the rented property for a fixed period, in which they are obligated to pay the rent for that set duration. Most AST’s run from 6 to 24 months.



A method of selling a property to the highest bidder. Most owners will include a reserve price, which is the lowest amount they are willing to sell for, if this amount is not reached then the property will not be sold.



Bank Rate

Otherwise known as the base rate – this is the interest rate that is set by the Bank of England.


Break Clause

A clause in a fixed term agreement that will allow either the landlord or the tenants to give notice to end the tenancy on a pre-agreed date.


Buildings Insurance

Insurance that covers any structural damage to your property, if you have a mortgage, buildings insurance will probably be a necessity.


Building Survey

Otherwise known as a structural survey – a detailed report on the structural condition of a property.



The person buying a property, can also sometimes be referred to as the ‘purchaser’.



Someone who is specifically buying a property in order to rent it out.




A chain is created when a buyer needs to sell their home in order to purchase another one, therefore multiple transactions need to occur at the same time for each sale and purchase to go through.


Chartered Surveyor

A surveyor who is accredited by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).



This should take place at the point the tenant vacates the property. The condition of the property will be compared to the inventory taken prior to the commencement of the tenancy.


Client Money Protection Insurance (CMP)

A type of insurance all letting agents must have which protects any client monies held. Aquarius Homes have CMP with Money Shield. 


Common Parts/Areas

Shared accommodation that no leaseholder has sole ownership of, such as hallways and gardens.



When the sale of a property is finalised, and ownership has legally transferred from the old party to the new one. 


Condition Report

The most basic type of survey on the condition of a property.


Contents Insurance

A chain is created when a buyer needs to sell their home in order to purchase another one, therefore multiple transactions need to occur at the same time for each sale and purchase to go through. 



The legal process of transferring the legal ownership of a property. A conveyancer is the qualified person, such as a solicitor or lawyer, who handles the legal aspects of the transaction. Both the seller and buyer will have their own conveyancer.


Council Tax

The local authority tax for England, Scotland and Wales. In lettings, it is usually the responsibility of the tenant to pay this, however there are some exemptions such as students.



A legal requirement which can be found in title deeds or tenancy agreements, that contain restrictions on how the property can be used.




Legal documents confirming ownership of a property.



When buying a home, the deposit is the money paid at the point of exchange, with the remaining amount being paid once the sale has completed. A deposit is usually 10% of the purchase price.

When renting, the deposit is the sum of money paid by the tenant to cover dilapidations or unpaid rent. From June 2019 the deposit amount must be capped at 5 weeks rent (if the annual rent is under £50,000).  A deposit must be protected by an approved deposit protection scheme - Aquarius Homes uses the Deposit Protection Service (DPS).



A property that has no adjoining walls to other properties.



Damage to a property or its contents that a tenant is responsible for.



Additional fees in conveyancing, for example Stamp Duty Land Tax, Land Registry Fees, and search fees.



Early Release

When a tenant asks permission to end a tenancy before the fixed end date.



A right that affects a property, such as a right of way over land.



The last house on a row of how of houses sharing adjoining walls.


Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

A certificate detailing the energy efficiency and environmental impact of a property, rated from A-G. It will also provide an estimation of running costs and how to improve your efficiency. It is a compulsory document when letting or selling a property.



Questions that are raised by the buyer’s conveyancer between the point of offer acceptance and completion.


Exchange (of Contracts)

The point at which the seller and buyer are legally committed to the sale of the purchase by exchanging signed contracts.



Fixtures and Fittings

When buying a property fixtures are items that are part of the building or land and therefore are included in the sale. Fittings are not physically attached to the property so are not included in the property unless specifically agreed. A seller will complete a fixtures and fittings form to confirm what is included in the sale.

When letting a property, the fixtures and fittings are items that are not necessarily provided such as curtains, lampshades, kitchen appliances etc.



An image of the dimensions of a property.



Complete ownership of land for an indefinite period. The person who owns it is known as the freeholder. 



Furniture and other items provide by a landlord.



Gas Safety Record

An annual check to ensure all gas appliances, pipework and flues are safe. It is a legal requirement to provide a copy of this to tenants.



When a seller accepts an offer, then subsequently accepts a higher offer from another party before the point of exchange.



When a buyer reduces their offer just before the point of exchanging contracts.


General Date Protection Regulation (GDPR)

The Act that sets out how an organisation can use and store an individual’s data and personal



Ground Rent

The set amount the leaseholder pays to the freeholder.



Someone who agrees to fulfil all obligations of a tenancy agreement, including paying the rent, if the tenant is unable to do so.




A government scheme that helps people purchase a home using a small deposit.


Holding Deposit

A (usually) refundable amount of money paid to reserve a rental property before signing a tenancy agreement. This is capped at 1 week’s rent.


Homebuyer Report

A mid-level report carried out by a surveyor to assess the condition of a property and highlight any major defects.


Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO)

If at least 3 tenants from 2 different households share washing and cooking facilities, then that property is classed as an HMO. Landlords of HMO have extra responsibilities.




When a vendor asks an estate agent to advertise their property for sale.



A detailed report, provided at the start of the tenancy, listing all of the contents of a rental property and the condition of each item. It will usually include either a video or photos to accompany the descriptions.



Joint Agents

When a seller instructs two or more agents to market their property for them.


Jointly and Severally Liable

When multiple tenants rent a property, all the tenants are liable for the payment of rent by all the tenants, and not just their own share. This also means that all tenants are responsible for any breach of the tenancy agreement.



Land Registry

The government department that records the ownership of land in England and Wales.



The owner of a property that rents it out to tenants.



The right to occupy and own a property through a lease agreement with the freeholder for a predetermined period. The Leaseholder or Lessee is the person who is granted a lease of the property. The Lessor is someone who grants the lease.


Let Agreed

A tenancy has been agreed, subject to contract.



Legally responsible.


Listed Building

A building that is registered and has protections due to its special architectural and/or historic importance. This may mean it has some restrictions and obligations on its use, repair and maintenance.


Local Searches

Carried out by the local authority, your conveyancer will arrange for checks to be done regarding any issues that may affect a property, and the surrounding areas when purchasing it.




A property that has its own private entrance but is part of a larger building.



A long-term loan used to fund a property purchase.


Mortgage Valuation

Carried out by a surveyor acting on behalf of the lender, they assess the value of a property, and determines the maximum amount that can be loaned on that property.



NAEA Propertymark

Formally known as the National Association of Estate Agents, NAEA is a professional body for estate agents that sets and regulates the level of expected professionalism.


National House Building Council (NHBC) Scheme

A scheme that provides a guarantee on structural defects of newly built homes. Only applies for a specified time following construction.


Notice Period

The length of time landlord and tenants must give each other to end a tenancy.




The amount a buyer proposes to buy a property for. An offer is not legally binding in England and Wales and can be withdrawn or changed at any time prior to exchange.



An independent organisation that investigates professionals when complaints are made about them. Aquarius Homes are part of the Property Ombudsman.

Open Market Value

The price a property would be likely to achieve if it were available to purchase.


Open House

A period of time (usually a few hours – a day), where the marketing agent will show multiple viewers around a property, instead of separate, private viewings.





Stands for Per Calendar Month, usually in reference to rental payments.


Peppercorn Rent

A very low amount of rent.


Periodic Tenancy

Otherwise known as a rolling tenancy - It is a tenancy that rolls on from month to month, giving both landlords and tenants more flexibility in duration. Once an AST has come to the end of the fixed term, the tenancy will automatically become a periodic one, where all the terms and conditions of the AST remain the same.


Possession Order

A Legal document provided by a magistrate’s court, allowing a landlord to gain possession of a property from a tenant.


Power of Attorney (PoA)

Someone you assign to act on your behalf for financial and legal matters, when you are not able to do so.


Prescribed Information

Information regarding the tenancy deposit scheme used to protect a tenant’s deposit, that the landlord/agent is legally required to provide to the tenant.



When someone leaves a property in their will, probate is the official process of proving the will is valid. Contracts cannot exchange until probate has been granted.



Quiet Enjoyment

A tenant is entitled to occupy a property without undue disturbance from the landlord. If a landlord plans to visit, it should be for a reason, and adequate notice must be provided to the tenant.




Checks are done on prospective tenants to try and gather if they would be a good tenant or not. Checks are usually made on their credit history, previous landlords and employment.  



At the end of the initial term of an AST, landlords and tenants can choose to renew the tenancy for another fixed term.



The payment made by tenants to landlords in order to occupy the property.


Residential Property

A Property that is intended for domestic purposes.



Schedule of Condition

Carried out in conjunction with a inventory, it is a detailed report, provided at the start of the tenancy, listing all the contents of a rental property and the condition of each item.



A property that has one adjoining side to another property.


Service Charge

Also known as a maintenance charge – payments made by the leaseholder to the freeholder, used to cover costs of maintaining the property and upkeep of communal areas.  


Shared Ownership

Some UK housing associations offer the option to buy part of a property (usually 25-75%) and pay an affordable rent on the share of the property not owned.  


Sinking Fund

A pool of money held by the freeholder to cover aby large scale works that need to be done to maintain and upkeep a property.


Sole Agency

Only one agent exclusively markets a property.


Standing Order

A convenient way to pay a monthly rent whereby the account holder can make a fixed payment on a regular basis until cancelled by the account holder.


Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT)

Most commonly referred to as ‘stamp duty’, this is a tax paid to the government by the purchaser of a residential property. The amount depends on the purchase price and the purchaser’s situation, but the tax rates are ‘banded’.


Statutory Obligations

The requirement set out by the Acts of Parliament for Letting agents and landlords.


Studio Apartment/Flat

A flat with one living space that combines sleeping, living and cooking facilities. There will usually be a separate bath/shower room.



When an existing tenant lets out all or part of their property to someone else. Many tenancy agreements forbid this.


Subject to Contract (STC)

A provisional agreement prior to contracts being exchanged/signed meaning nothing is yet legally binding.



A qualified individual that carries out surveys on properties.




Entity who is legally entitled to temporarily occupy a rental property under the terms of a tenancy agreement.


Tenancy Agreement

A legal contract between a landlord(s) and a tenant(s) detailing the terms and conditions of their rental agreement.  



The condition on which a property is held (i.e. freehold or leasehold).



A Property where both side walls are shared with adjoining properties.


Title Deeds

Documents detailing the legal ownership of a property.



Under Offer

The status of a property where a vendor has accepted an offer from a purchaser, but they have not yet exchanged contracts.


Utility Bills

Electricity, Gas and Water Bills.



Vacant Possession

A Property that will be purchased with no one residing in it at the point of completion.



An estimate of the current value of a property given by an estate agent or surveyor.


Valuation Survey

When a mortgage lender will asses the current value of a property.



The person who is selling a property. Also known as seller.



Wear and Tear

Deterioration of a property through normal daily use. A tenant is allowed cannot be expected to live in a property without causing some wear and tear.


White Goods

Appliances (usually found in the kitchen), such as fridges and washing machines.




A measurement of the income generated from a property stated as a percentage of the property value.

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