No-nonsense jargon buster for tenants

What does that mean?

Explaining the jargon every prospective tenant needs to understand, and every existing tenant should already be aware of…


Accreditation Scheme: Reputable agents are accredited by a professional organisation. Examples include ARLA, Propertymark, GPP, Safe Agent RICS or UKALA.

Arrears: Money still owed by the tenant to the Landlord after an agreed date.

Assured Shorthold Tenancy: This is the most common form of legal contract between a private Landlord and their tenant. The written agreement gives the terms and conditions of the tenancy and the rent amount to be paid.


Break Clause: A pre-agreed arrangement that allows either tenant or Landlord to end their tenancy agreement before the end of the original term.


Check-In: Moving a tenant into a rental property for the first time. This should include an inventory that describes the property’s condition before the tenant moves in.

Check-Out: Moving a tenant out of the rental property. This includes checking that the tenant returns the property in the same condition as shown on the inventory. In addition, there should be an allowance for fair wear and tear.

Credit Search References: Financial checks carried out by the Landlord to prove that the tenant can meet the rental payments financially. Many rental agents and private landlords get this information from external credit check agencies.


Deposit: The tenant paid an amount of money to comply with the tenancy agreement.

Deposit Cap: A fixed limit on the amount of deposit. This is usually equivalent to five weeks rent.

Deposit Protection Scheme: A government-backed scheme to protect tenants’ deposits. A tenant who meets the tenancy agreement terms pays all rent and bills and does not damage the property can expect to have their deposit returned in full.

The Landlord must pay the deposit into the scheme within 30 days of receiving it.

The tenant must have all or some (if there’s an agreed difference) of their deposit paid back to them within ten days of the end of the tenancy.

Dilapidations: Damage to a property, items missing from the inventory, or re-decoration needed after having taken ‘reasonable wear and care’ into account.


Energy Performance Certificate (EPC): The EPC shows the property’s energy efficiency and is valid for ten years. By law, every tenant should see the property’s EPC before signing the tenancy agreement.

Eviction: The only process whereby a landlord can force the removal of a tenant from their property before the end of the tenancy agreement. There are strict legal procedures involved.

Extension or renewal of tenancy: The tenant and Landlord agree to extend or renew the tenancy after the original agreement ends. This can also include a negotiated and agreed change to the terms, such as a rent increase.


Fair Wear and Tear: Damage or deterioration caused by living in a property that is considered ‘reasonable’. The length of occupation and number of people living at the property are considered.

Fixtures and Fittings: Curtains, white goods and other non-structural items included with the property.


Gas Safety Certificate: Every rental property must have safe gas appliances, pipework, and flues. Annual inspections are required by law and carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer.

Giving Notice: There are agreed periods of notice for both tenants and landlords. These typically coincide with the end of the agreed tenancy period stated in the tenancy agreement. 

Guarantor: Someone who agrees and is accepted as being financially suitable to pay your rent if you can’t or won’t pay it for any reason. This guarantee is legally binding.


Holding Deposit: A deposit paid to reserve a property. The deposit can be no more than one week’s rent and is refundable.

Home Envirosearch: A report that states the flood, subsidence, and land contamination history for every UK postcode.

House in Multiple Occupation (HMO): A property with shared facilities occupied by more than three unrelated people.


Identity checks: The lettings agent should check the identities of the Landlord and tenants through official documentation such as a passport, driving licence, bank statements and utility bills.

Independent Redress Scheme: A government-approved scheme that tenants can use if they have a complaint against a lettings agent which has not been resolved.

Inventory: A list of the house fixtures and fittings taken before moving into the property and compared on vacating the property.


Letting Agent: Helps both the tenant and the Landlord arrange the tenancy and manage the property if required.

Liability: If you share the property with another person, you will have a joint tenancy. This means you are both liable for the rent. If the other person doesn’t pay their share of the rent, you are liable to make up the shortfall. If you don’t do that, the Landlord can pursue each party, deduct money from the deposit to cover the shortfall or act against any guarantor.


Per Calendar Month: The amount you pay to your Landlord every month.


Section 21 Notice: The official notice must be served to end a tenancy forcibly.

Sub-letting: Where a tenant lets all or part of a property to someone else. Rules surround any such arrangement, and you must have the Landlord’s permission.


Tenant: A person who pays to live in a property they do not own.


Unlawful Eviction: Eviction of a tenant from residential property by preventing them from occupying the property, for example, by changing the locks. This is a criminal offence under the Prevention from Eviction Act 1977.

For more information [Link] download a free copy of ‘How To Rent – The checklist for renting in England‘ or call us on [number]

Patchett Homes is an accredited lettings agent registered with Safe Agent and The Property Ombudsman.

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