Jargon Buster: what is HMO, tenancy agreement, ARLA and more

The world of property ownership and leasing can be filled with complicated and technical jargon. That’s why we’ve put together a handy list of some key terms that any landlord (or prospective landlord) who’s worth their salt should know.


Landlord jargon buster

Agents: Agents (or estate agents) are responsible for the buying, selling and letting of a property on behalf of someone else.

Alternative Dispute Resolution Service: The ADRS is a service that resolves deposit disputes. It can only be used if both the landlord and the tenant agree to it. Its decision is final and cannot be disputed.

ARLA: Short for the Association of Residential Letting Agents, it is responsible for letting agents in the UK and acts as their professional regulatory body.

Arrears: The name given for any overdue rent payments.

Assured Shorthold Tenancy: Most contracts since 1997 are assured shorthold tenancy agreements. Under this type of agreement, you can only increase the rent if the tenants agree to it, if it’s written in the tenancy agreement or at the end of a fixed term.

Assured Tenancy: An assured tenancy is a tenancy that started between 15th January 1989 and 27th February 1997. These tenants have protection from eviction at the end of their term and more rights to dispute a rise in the rent.


Covenants: The terms outlined within a tenancy agreement, or the rules governing a property.


landlord jargon buster

Deed: A legal document showing that the owner has the legal right to possess the property. It is drawn up during property transfers to show the change in ownership.

Deposit: This can refer to the money paid upfront in order to purchase a property. It is also the money, typically between one and two months’ rent, that a tenant needs to pay a landlord prior to moving into their property. The landlord is legally required to protect this deposit.


Energy Performance Certificate: An EPC provides the potential and current energy ratings of a property.


Freehold: Absolute ownership of the land or property.


Guarantor: Tenants will often require a guarantor, who takes responsibility for paying rent if the tenants fails to do so. This guarantor is also held legally accountable for any damage done to the property.


HMO: A House in Multiple Occupation. There are several forms of HMO, such as a house with multiple tenants who all share a tenancy agreement or one where all the tenants have separate contracts.

Housing Health and Safety Rating System: The HHSRS assess the health and safety risks in residential properties in England and Wales. If properties are assessed as being of a high risk, the council will take action against the property owners.


Lease: A legal document that the owner of a freehold property draws up to show an agreement to loan that property to another person for a specified time and amount of money.


Regulated Tenancy: A regulated tenancy is a “protected” type of tenancy for any tenants who have been in same property for a long period of time. If these tenants moved in before 15th January 1989, they are likely to hold a regulated tenancy.

Landlord jargon buster

Rent: The amount of money a landlord charges tenants to use their property. It can be charged monthly, quarterly or yearly, depending on the payment scheme set out in the Tenancy Agreement.  

Rent Assessment Committee: A committee made up of three people, normally a lawyer, a property valuer and a layperson, who together decide on the reasonable rent for a property.

Repossession: Repossession occurs when a mortgage lender takes away a property because the owner has fallen behind on the mortgage repayments.


Tenancy Agreement: The agreement that sets out the rules and procedure for renting a property. It will contain details about how much the rent is, when it must be paid, whether pets are allowed, etc.

Estate agent

Tenant: The official name of someone a landlord leases their property to, meaning they have the legal right to occupy that property.   


Valuation Survey: A survey to establish the value of a property, which is normally carried out by a building surveyor on behalf of a mortgage lender.

Valuation Office Agency: The Valuation Office Agency sets the maximum rent that a landlord can charge for a regulated tenancy through rent assessment committees.

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