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Tenant Jargon Buster

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Tenant Jargon Buster A-Z
A letting Agent usually either tenant find, rent collection or full management who is acting on behalf of the landlord.
AST (Assured Shorthold Tenancy)
An assured shorthold tenancy is a type of assured tenancy, which offers the landlord a guaranteed right to repossess his/her property at the end of the term. (See also Tenancy Agreement)
Break Clause
Also referred to as a Release Clause.  This is a clause sometimes inserted in a fixed term tenancy, typically if the initial fixed term is for a year or more.  It will not normally be applicable during the first six months of an Assured Shorthold Tenancy.  If the initial tenancy is renewed either party will often request a break clause if they do not know if they can continue renting or not.  A break clause will usually be worded in such a way as to allow either landlord or tenant to give two months 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
Credit Search references
References taken up on a tenant applying for rented accommodation.  Many agents and individual landlords use an credit recerencing agency who, for a fee, will contact the applicant's employer, landlord and check out the tenant's credit history.  They provide a rating on the prospective tenant's financial suitability.  See also references.
What is Condensation? Condensation is a process where moisture in the air from normal day to day living inside your house is condensing into water droplets on cold surfaces. This is most noticeable on hard surfaces like glass or tiles, where pools of water may appear on window sills. With soft surfaces like wallpaper and carpets you may not notice the moisture, but it will be absorbed into these items making them damp and colder and subsequently damper over time resulting in mould. Black surface pin mould is indicative of condensation and ultimately not good for our health.
What Causes Condensation? There are two main causes of condensation in a house: Not enough heat and inadequate ventilation.  Rooms that are inadequately heated, lead to more cold surfaces. The production of moisture from normal day to day activities results in moisture laden air collecting on the coldest part of the house where condensation will occur. This is most likely in kitchens and bathrooms, outside walls, cold corners of walls, built-in wardrobes and behind furniture – but moisture will also migrate elsewhere throughout a property.
How Can I Prevent Condensation?
  • Maintain a minimum temperature in all your rooms – temperatures should ideally not fall below 15c. If you are out all day leave some heating on to prevent the house getting too cold.
  • Minimise the amount of steam you produce when cooking, keep the lid on saucepans and always ventilate to outside, for example by opening a window or using the extractor fans.
  • Avoid drying wet clothes on radiators. Ideally try to dry them outside or by leaving them in a porch, utility room or garage. If you do dry clothes inside, consider using a dehumidifier (see photo left) and ensuring the room is well ventilated by opening a window. If you use a tumble dryer ensure the ventilation hoses are vented to the outside.
  • When showering keep the bathroom door closed, open a window and ensure the extractor is functioning and running long enough to remove the excess moisture from the room.
  • Open curtains during the day to allow air to the windows and frames.
  • Ventilate your bedroom by leaving a window slightly open at night or use the trickle vents if fitted.
  • Crystal moisture traps are readily available in all good DIY shops
Dealing with condensation. Open the curtains and wipe dry your windows and windowsills every morning, as well as surfaces in the kitchen or bathroom that have become wet.  Wring out the cloth in a sink rather than drying it on a radiator.
Council Tax
Local authority tax for England, Wales and Scotland.  In most cases this will be the responsibility of a tenant to pay.
The terms of the tenancy agreement - obligations -  "promises" made by either Landlord or Tenant.
Amount of money held by the landlord or agent for security against damage.  In England, the tenancy deposit is capped to five weeks rent if rent is under £50k per year and six weeks rent if rent is over £50k per year.
Direct Debit
See section on Standing Orders
Fixtures and fittings
Items usually provided in a letting - curtains, carpets, blinds, light fittings, kitchen units, appliances, (in the case of some lettings there will beds, chairs, tables and other items of fixtures and fittings provided).  It is advisable to always check as to what is provided and not to assume that items will be left
Full Management
Where the agent is appointed to manage all aspects of the let including dealing with issues relating to the building, fixtures and fittings and rent collection.
Gas safety regulations
The Landlord of a rented property must have a gas safety check carried out prior to a let and then annually.  A copy of the record must be given to the tenant before the start of the tenancy.  An authorised GAS SAFE Registered engineer can only carry out the check
A person who is prepared to guarantee rental payments and other obligations of a tenancy agreement.  The guarantor will be liable for rental payments if a tenant is unable to pay them, so the guarantor will need to have a regular income. Normally references and/or credit search references will be taken up on a guarantor.
Holding Deposit
This is a deposit asked for when a tenant applies for a tenancy of a property.  If the tenancy does not proceed - tenant pulling out - references not acceptable this is then often retained by the agent to cover referencing costs.
HMO (House in multiple occupation)
House in multiple occupation - Bedsits or flat lets normally a self-contained room, with either cooking facilities (in the room) and/or a shared kitchen and/or bathroom (and toilet facilities).  The Housing Act 2004 covers any property occupied by more than one household.
Listing of the contents of a property.  This can include the state and condition of a property including the garden, the state of a property - clean - dirty etc and also the structural fixtures and fittings - power points - windows etc.  They should be checked in with the tenant at the start of the tenancy and then checked out with the tenant at the end.  It is more and more usual that a professional inventory clerk is employed.
Joint & Several Liability
Where there is to be more than one (adult) person living in the property, the tenancy will say they are jointly and severally responsible.  This means that, jointly, the tenants are liable for the payment of all rents and all liabilities falling upon the tenants during the tenancy, as well as any breach of the tenancy areement.  Individually each tenant is responsible for payment of all rent and all liabilities falling upon the tenant, as well as any breach of the Agreement until all payments have been made in full.
Is a person, persons, company or body that has a formal interest in the premises and has the right to let the property.
Often confused with tenancy agreement this is normally a long lease on an apartment (see Superior Lease) where as the actual document governing a rental is normally known as a tenancy agreement.
Black surface pin mould appears as a direct result of surfaces that have become damp over time due to condensation (see above).  Mould is not good for health and should be treated as soon as it appears.  To kill and remove mould wipe down surfaces or spray walls and window frames with a specialist mould/mildew cleaner or mix a little bleach with warm water. The only lasting cure for mould is to reduce the amount of condensation you are creating by using the heating more and ventilating the property effectively.
Rental figure "pcm" - per calendar month.
Checking a tenant applicant's suitability to be able to pay the rent and also the applicant's track record in earlier rentals.  This often involves contacting previous landlords, the present employer or accountant if self employed and bank (banks normally charge for providing references) See also Credit search references.
Rent Collection
Where the agent collects the rent and hold the deposit. Management issues are dealt with by the landlord directly.
See utilities
Standing Order
Standing order mandate is an instruction that the tenant makes to his/her bank for payment of rent. It can either be set up on a form or on line (by the tenant).  Normally payments are made each month and the instruction will state the number of payments or will continue to be paid until cancelled by the tenant.  A landlord or agent cannot cancel a standing order mandate, only the person whose bank account the fund are coming from. A standing order should not be confused with a Direct Debit. This is not often used for the payment of rent and is more common for payments that differ each month and the company notifies the bank's customer in advance you are paying money to of the amounts and dates.
Studio apartment/flat
Flat with bedroom/living room all in one either with a separate kitchen or corner of the main room as a kitchen with separate bathroom and toilet.
Superior Lease or Head Lease
This is the lease that the landlord holds.  This is often the case in an apartment/flat where the owner has the leasehold interest, but another individual owns the freehold.  There is then this lease under which the landlord is responsible for the covenants.  Where a property is let the tenant also has to comply with any of these obligations - e.g. not to hang out washing on a balcony..
A person, persons (company or organisation) who is entitled to occupy a property under the terms and conditions of a tenancy agreement.
Tenant Find
The term used to describe an agent where the agent introduces the tenant to the landlord and hands over the rent collection and the management to the landlord directly.
Tenancy Agreement
This is a legal binding document containing details about the rental terms. Sometimes known as a rental agreement. It will state the parties - landlord  - tenants the rental price and the property address along with the Covenants of the let.  It should be written in plain clear language
The Term of Tenancy
Length of tenancy - most initial tenancy agreements are for a minimum of six months, they can be shorter and longer.
Or Services - These are normally electricity, gas and water. Under most circumstances the tenant is responsible for paying for these.
Water Charges
see utilities

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I can not Thank Steve and Peter enough for the help they gave me when I was selling my late father's property. All staff were friendly and helpful and thoroughly professional at all times. When our buyer dropped out, just at the point of exchange, no time was wasted before new buyers were found. Steve and Peter were always available to answer any queries and if not they called back very shortly...

- Cheryll Ragan

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