Terms used in Property Sales, Lettings, Legal

Jargon Buster

There’s lots of terms that are used whether you’re buying, selling or renting a property, here at Hackney & Leigh we’ve put together handy guides to aid you with all this jargon. If you have any further questions don’t hesitate to get in touch.


Abstract or Epitome of Title – a summary or list of relevant title deeds proving the history of ownership of a property.

Acre – is a measure of land and contains 4,840 square yards.

Adopted Highway – a road (and ancillary paths and sometimes verges) maintained by the local authority at public expense.

Advance – the original amount of the loan from a Bank or Building Society.

Agent – a letting/ rent collection/management/estate agent or other duly authorised person (or company / organisation) who is acting on behalf of the landlord.

Applicant – the person or party looking to buy or rent a property.

Application Fee – a fee which is payable to reserve a property and start the application process. This may or may not be refundable and the cost may vary from agent to agent.

Appraisal/Valuation – an estate agents inspection of the property to give an assessment of its value in the current market.

Appreciation – the increase in value of a property due to changes in the market.

Assent – the name given to a transfer document by which the representatives of a deceased owner transfer the property to the person entitled.

Asset – any form of property owned by a person which can be used to determine wealth.

Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) – this is the most common type of rental agreement; this document sets out the rights and obligations between the landlord and tenant where the rent term is 6 months or longer with a maximum rent of £100,000.

Assured Tenancy – gives you the right to remain in a property unless the landlord can convince the court there are good reasons to evict you (such as rent arrears, damage etc.).

Auction – is the process of buying and selling a property or piece of land by a bidding process. The property or land will be sold to the highest bidder provided the reserve price is surpassed and at the fall of the ‘hammer’ a legally binding contract for the sale between the seller and the buyer is made. At the end the buyer signs the contract, usually provides a 10% deposit and a completion date is inserted in the contract, typically 28 days from the date of sale.


Base Rate – the rate of interest set by the Bank of England upon which most other interest rates are based.

Bankers Draft – a cheque like payment which is guaranteed after a short fund clearance time.

Bankruptcy Search – if you are taking out a mortgage against the property you are purchasing then the lender will request that your solicitor carries out a search to ensure you are not bankrupt.

Bed-Sit – single room accommodation which serves as a bedroom and living space in one.

Block Management – agents who act for the freeholders and leaseholders for block of apartments and flats. Normally will organise internal cleaning, garden maintenance, arrange the insurance and arrange re-decoration.

Break 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 the 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.

Bridging Loan – temporary finance ‘bridging’ the period between completion on the purchase of a property and the sale of an existing property, funds from which are intended to finance /part finance the new purchase.

Building Insurance – buildings insurance provides cover for you in case something happens to the property you are purchasing (a fire for example). In conveyancing transactions in England and Wales you are often responsible for building’s insurance from exchange of contracts (not completion).  It is important to have an appropriate level of cover in place from this date. The policy value should be able to meet any costs involved in rebuilding the property, rather than the current property value.

Building Preservation Order – to protect building of special architectural or historic interest from demolition or alterations that would affect their interest.

Building Regulation Consent – approval by the local authority to the method of construction and materials used in building work.

Building Survey – a survey usually carried out by a chartered surveyor with the purpose of creating a detailed report of the general structural condition of the property highlighting any defects.

Bungalow – a single storey property.

Buy to Let – the term used to describe buying a property with the specific intention of renting it out rather than living in it.

Buy-to-let Mortgage – a mortgage type targeting buyers who wish to purchase an investment property to let out.


Capital Appreciation  growth or gain in the value of a property asset over time. Added to income. This contributes to the overall or total return on a property or financial investment.

Cashback – a sum of money (paid by cheque) by the Lender on completion of a mortgage (but only if this arrangement formed part of the mortgage offer).

Cavity Wall – an external wall of a building that is made up of two leaves of masonry, bricks or blocks separated by a cavity.

Chain – this is when 3 or more buyers rely upon the sale of their property to complete the purchase of a new property. If one buyer in the chain has a sale fall through the chain may collapse affecting all connected down the line.

Chief Rent – an annual charge on freehold property found in certain parts of Britain. The chief rent is payable by the freeholder in perpetuity, although the amount cannot be increased.

Client Care Letter – the client care letter details the level of service you should expect from the firm handling your conveyancing matter. Until you have signed and returned a client care letter to a solicitor you have not instructed them, and are under no obligation do so just because you got a quote from them.

Commercial Property – refers to buildings or land intended to generate a profit, either from capital gain or rental income, by being used or occupied by businesses.

Commission – fee paid to your estate agent, usually following exchange of contracts.

Common Areas – areas of building or outside space which are used by more than one resident such as parking areas, hallways and gardens.

Commons Registration Search – a search to ensure the property is not registered as common land or part of a village green.  If it is, then other people may have rights over the land concerned.

Company Let – where a property is let to a company or business rather than to an actual occupier. Such tenancies do not proved the same security as an AST.

Completion Date – this is the date upon which the buyer (or the buyer’s solicitor) will transfer payment for the property to the seller, and also receive the keys to their new property. The seller hands over the keys to the property (usually through their estate agent) and the sellers solicitor transfers payment for the property (minus and deductions for fees or disbursements due) to the seller.

Completion Statement – this is a full breakdown of the financial costs incurred in purchasing a property and will be provided by your solicitor. It states the total amount of money your solicitor needs from you in order to complete the purchase of your chosen property on your behalf.

Contract – the contract is a legal document that sets out the terms of the conveyancing transaction and the parties involved, and is drafted by the seller’s solicitor.

Conservation Area – an area of a town or district in which development is restricted due to its special environment or appeal.

Contents Insurance – contents insurance provides cover for the cost to replace any items located inside your property, if they are lost due to fire or theft. It is recommend that if you have anything of value in your property, that you have cover in place from when you take possession of the property at completion.

Contract – the contract is a legal document that sets out the terms of the conveyancing transaction and the parties involved, and is drafted by the seller’s solicitor.

Contract Pack – the contract pack is a collection of documents and information relating to the property being sold. It is compiled by the seller’s solicitor and contains key details including: draft contract, copy title deeds, a completed property information form (completed by the seller) and a fixtures and fittings form (completed by the seller). The contract pack is forwarded to the buyer’s conveyancing solicitor so he may investigate the seller’s legal title over the property.

Contract Race – where two parties have made an offer on the same property and 2 contracts are issued, the eventual buyer being the party which is able to exchange contacts first.

Contractual Tenancy – this is a type of tenancy agreement which is used when the yearly rent exceeds £100,000.

Conversion – refers to a house which has been divided to make 2 or more flats.

Converted Flat – a part of a property which has been converted into a flat or apartment.

Conveyance – a document or deed used to transfer ownership of an unregistered property from the Seller to the Buyer.

Conveyancer – usually a licensed conveyancer who deals with only the legal aspects of buying or selling properties.

Conveyancing – the legal process used to buy and sell land and property.

Cottage – generally refers to smaller rural properties.

Council Tax – a charge imposed upon property by Local Authorities to raise Revenues for the provision of local services. Each property is ‘banded’ by value to determine the amount paid. In most cases this will be the responsibility of a tenant to pay.

Covenants – rules/regulations governing specifics that can /cannot be carried out in the properties title deeds or lease/leasehold agreement.

Credit Search References – references taken up on a tenant applying for rented accommodation. Many agents and individual landlords use an outside company who for a fee will contact the applicant’s employer, landlord and also check out the tenant’s credit history. They will be providing a report on the prospective tenant’s financial suitability.


Deed of Covenant – a document or deed containing an agreement to pay or do something.

Deed of Gift – a document or deed used to transfer ownership of property from one person to another without any payment being made.

Deed of Guarantee – a document used where one person agrees to be responsible for someone else’s debt or mortgage obligations should that person fail to carry out his/her own obligations.

Deed of Postponement or Priority – where a Lender agrees that its mortgage will rank or take effect in priority after another lender’s mortgage.

Deeds – documents which establish ownership and confirm the Owner’s title to the property.

Deposit – this is the amount of money the buyer will pay to the seller on exchange of contracts. The standard deposit is 10%, however if you are buying and selling your solicitor can usually use your buyers deposit for your purchase without the need to find a deposit in cash.

Depreciation – a reduction in the value of a property due to changes in market conditions.

Detached – describes a property that stands alone in that it is not connected to any other property.

Development – a new site of houses which have recently been built or a renovation project.

Dilapidations – any costs which are incurred on a property due to damage from tenants, these costs are usually taken from the deposit.

Disbursements – these are additional costs incurred during a property sale or purchase, and include things such as stamp duty and search fees.

Dormer Bungalow – a property similar to a bungalow but with additional accommodation within the roof space.

Down Value – this describes the action when mortgage lenders restrict the amount you can borrow after the valuer reports that ‘in their opinion’ the property is not worth the agreed price.

Drainage Search – this search shows the location of drains and sewers located near or on your property and whether or not surface water and/or foul water drains run into a public or private sewer.


Easement – a legal right given by a property owner to use another property owners land e.g. right of way.

Edwardian – property built between approximately 1901 and 1910.

Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 – legislation regulating and ensuring that electrical equipment is properly maintained and checked by a trained electrical engineer to ensure safety.

Elizabethan – property built between approximately 1560 and 1603.

Encroachment – where a property owner violates the property rights of his neighbour by building something on the neighbour’s land or by allowing something to hang over onto the neighbour’s property. Encroachment can be a problem along property lines when a property owner is not aware of his property boundaries or intentionally chooses to violate his neighbour’s boundaries.

Energy Performance Certificate – compulsory document to accompany all properties being sold or let that indicates the energy rating of a property showing how energy efficient the building is/its carbon footprint and how it could potentially be improved.

Environmental Search – it is recommended that environmental searches are carried out on any property you are purchasing. These searches identify whether there are any landfill/waste disposal sites in the area, if your property has been built on an old industrial site, and whether there are any risks from the land your house is built on being contaminated or having toxic emissions, for example if your property is situated in an area with high levels of radon. Environmental searches should also identify if your property may be susceptible to flooding or subsidence as a result of mining.

Equity – refers to a person’s asset value or in respect of property, the net value of a property after mortgages or other charges are paid off.

Estate (Wills) – usually refers to the value of the assets of a deceased person  including the house, Car, Investments or Bank Accounts and anything else you own in your sole name.

Estate Agent – the only one to mention of course is Hackney & Leigh!

Ex-local Authority – refers to a property which was formerly owned by the council.

Exchange of Contracts – it is at exchange of contracts that a conveyancing transaction in England or Wales becomes legally binding. Until this point either party can pull out of the conveyancing transaction. Identical copies of the contract are signed by both parties and exchanged, usually by the solicitors for both parties. The deposit is also passed from the buyer’s solicitor to the seller’s solicitor for them to hold until completion – the deposit is non-refundable.


Fees – this is the charge levied by your solicitor to complete your conveyancing transaction. VAT will be payable on any fees, and it is worth noting that disbursements may also be payable in addition to any solicitors fees. Always ensure you obtain a full conveyancing quote including all fees and disbursements before instructing a solicitor.

Fixtures and Fittings – generally a fixture is understood to be any item that is fixed to the floor or walls, and a fitting to be any item that is free standing or hung by a nail or hook. These items are usually included in the sale of a property or a price is agreed to purchase them.

Fixtures, Fittings and Contents Form – a standard form in which the Seller specifies items in or affixed to the property which are included in the sale at the agreed price.

Flat – generally refers to a property occupying only part of a building. Blocks of flats can be purpose built or in converted houses.

Flat Shares – sharing a property with one or more people where each person usually has their own bedroom.

Flying Freehold – if at least a part of one property is built on top of part of another property (and the upper property owner does not own the whole building or land underneath the “flying” part) and the legal structure of the block is not leasehold, then a flying freehold will arise.

Formal Tender – the “formal tender” method of land sale invites offers by a firm closing date. Prospective buyers are supplied with a comprehensive legal pack with a specified exchange date on decision. Offers are returned in a sealed envelope, stating the contract to which they relate, but unmarked as to its sender. The offer envelopes are then opened together at the published date/time. As soon as the “best bid” is selected, the bankers draft is accepted and contracts are automatically exchanged. The successful bidder is then committed to the contract and will have to complete the sale on the appointed date.

Freehold – ownership of the land upon which the property is situated on.

Freeholder – a freehold interest in property means ‘absolute’ ownership, although technically all land is held by the crown.

Full Title Guarantee – the standard guarantee given by an absolute owner to the Buyer.

Furnishings – items usually provided in a letting: curtains, carpets, blinds, light fittings, kitchen units and larger appliances such as oven and fridge.

Further Advance – an additional amount loaned to an Owner after completion on broadly the terms of the original mortgage.


Garden Flat – a ground floor flat leading directly into a garden.

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. Only a authorised & registered Gas Safe engineer can only carry out these check.

Gazumping – this is when a seller is offered a higher bid for their property which they accept having already agreed to an offer where the exchange of contracts has not yet taken place.

Gazundering – this is the phrase used to describe when a buyer reduces their offer before the exchange of contracts.

Georgian – property built between approximately 1714 and 1830.

Granny Flat – smaller self-contained flat at the back or on an upper floor of the main property. Usually with its own front door.

Ground Rent – the annual fee charged by a freeholder to the leaseholder.

Ground Rent – this is the rent paid by a lessee to a lessor where a property is leasehold. It is often paid yearly.

Guarantor – a person who is prepared to guarantee rental payments and other obligations of a tenancy on behalf of the tenant. 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 or credit search references will be taken up on a guarantor.


Hectare – a metric measurement of an area of land equivalent to 2.47 acres.

Help to Buy mortgage guarantee – helps people buy any home worth up to £600,000 with a deposit of only 5% of the purchase price. The Government will guarantee the next 15pc of the loan for a fee. Help to Buy mortgage guarantees will be open to both first-time buyers and home movers. However, you won’t be able to get a Help to Buy mortgage guarantee if you’re planning on renting out the property. The guarantee is provided to your lender – not to you. To qualify for a Help to Buy mortgage guarantee, the home you want to buy must be offered for sale at £600,000 or less, not be a shared ownership or shared equity purchase, the property can be newly built or already existing. You don’t have to be a first-time buyer and there’s no limit on your level of income. But you can’t use Help to Buy with any other publicly funded mortgage scheme.

High Rent Tenancy – tenancy agreement when the annual rent is over £100,000 per annum and known as a contractual tenancy.

Holding Fee – this is usually a nominal amount (£100 +) that will be asked for when a tenant applies for a property. If the tenancy does not proceed – tenant pulling out – references not acceptable – this is then often retained by the agent.

Home Buyers Report – one of a variety of valuations and surveys which may be undertaken on behalf of a lender.

Home Buyers Survey – this survey is designed for purchasers buying a home, giving the surveyors opinion on the condition and value of the property.

House – usually refers to a whole property. One house can contain several flats.

House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) – The strict definition is quite complex but in very simple terms and HMO is a home which is occupied by three or more unrelated persons who do not form a single household or who share amenities such as cooking or bathroom facilities for example.


Index Map Search – a search at the Land Registry to see if a property is registered or unregistered.

Informal Tender – where the sale of a property is generally marketed with a final date by which purchasers must have submitted a sealed bid. Offer envelopes are opened on the final day. Once an offer has been accepted the sale proceeds as a normal sale by private treaty.

Instruction – when a seller instructs an estate agent to market a property.

Inventory – schedule of the contents and condition of a property to include the garden, the standard of cleanliness and fixtures and fittings i.e. power points/windows etc. This will be checked at the start and finish of the tenancy. Sometimes a professional inventory clerk is employed.

Investment – a property that is not occupied by the owner, usually purchased specifically to generate profit through rental income and/or capital gains.


Joint Agency – where two estate agents work together to market a property.

Joint Equity / Venture – usually refers to a situation where two or more parties together invest in a property or venture.

Joint & Several Liabilities – 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 Agreement. 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.

Joint Mortgage – a mortgage where there is more than one individual named responsible for the mortgage.

Joint Tenancy – a form of joint ownership of land when two or more parties share the ownership of the whole title to the property. If one party dies, then the survivor/s will own the whole property.


Land Certificate – document issued by the land registry to the owner of a registered land as proof of ownership, where there are no ‘legal charges’. It includes a copy of the register and the plan showing the extent of the land.

Land Charges Search – a search against a person’s name at the Land Registry to see if that person has been the subject of any bankruptcy proceedings and (if the property is unregistered) to see if there are any mortgages or other adverse interests registered against the property.

Land Registry – an organisation controlled by central government which maintains a register of properties and their ownership in England and Wales.  It now covers approximately 90 – 95 percent of residential dwellings. The Registry records the prices that properties are sold for.

Land Registry Fee – the fee payable to the Land Registry to register any change in the property details including a change of ownership.

Land Registry Search – this search determines the current ownership of the property and checks that there are no mortgages registered against the property that have not previously been disclosed. If a mortgage is in place the buyer’s solicitor will obtain confirmation that the mortgage will be repaid.

Landlord – is a person, persons, company or body that has a formal interest in the premises and has the right to let the property.

Landlord’s Insurance – a specific type of insurance offered by certain companies to cover the needs of landlords. Can cover anything from rent losses and damage to re-housing tenants in the case of emergencies.

Landlord’s Reference – a reference written by a previous landlord which describes the rent punctuality and conduct of a tenant.

Lease – a document setting out the rights and obligations of the Landlord and Tenant (Lessor and Lessee) in the leasehold arrangements.

Lease Agreement – a legal document between the landlord and a tenant that states the terms of agreement between them setting out legal rights of the letting.

Leasehold – where the ownership of property is for a limited period only.  For example 99 years or 999 years.  It will normally involve payment of an annual ground rent.

Lender – a Bank, Building Society or other person or company who lends money to an Owner.

Lessee – the present owner of the leasehold property.  This contrasts with the freeholder or landlord whose interest is subject to the lessee’s rights under the lease until the lease term has come to an end.

Lessor – person responsible for granting a lease, normally the landlord.

Limited Title Guarantee – a title guarantee given by a Seller who has limited knowledge of the property and cannot give a full title guarantee such as someone selling on behalf of a deceased owner.

Listed Building – a term given to a building which is either of historical interest or holds special architectural interest. Listed buildings cannot be altered without consent from a local government authority.

Live-in Landlord – a homeowner who rents out one or more rooms in their property whilst living there themselves.

Live-out Landlord – a landlord who rents a property they do not live in themselves.

Local Authority Search – this looks at the planning history of the property and whether the Council are aware of any breaches of in planning permission. The search also checks for proposals for any new traffic schemes and roads that could affect the value of your property, as well as for anything else of interest such as conservation areas and smoke control orders within the Council’s control that affect the property.

Loft Apartment – generally in former industrial premises and often open plan in layout loft apartments usually have high ceilings and lots of natural light.

Long Let – describes a rental period which is for a period of six months or more.

Local Search – a search submitted by us to the local authority to ask a considerable number of questions about the property including (by example) information on planning permission(s) and whether the adjoining roadway is maintainable at public expense.

LPA – means Lasting Power of Attorney.


Maintenance/ Service Charge – charged by leaseholders to recover the costs they incur in providing services to a dwelling. e.g. maintenance of communal areas and buildings insurance.

Maisonette – a flat on two levels with internal stairs and/or its own street-level front door.

Management Company – the company often formed and owned by property owners such as in a building divided into separate apartments, who will be responsible for the maintenance and insurance of the common parts of the building and its grounds.

Mansion – a very large or expensive house. Used in London to describe a style of purpose built flats which generally have high ceilings.

Marital Home – a property where the married couple lives or have lived – usually referred to in Divorce Cases.

Market Value – a price of a property which can be achieved by the current demand of the market.

Mews – mews are traditionally rows of former stables converted into residential properties.

Mezzanine  intermediate floor usually in a multi-story building, which does not extend to the full floor area of the whole building.

Mining Search – a search to check whether the property may be affected by past or present coal mining and, in particular, the risk of subsidence.

Money Laundering – money laundering is the process of changing large amounts of money obtained from crimes, such as drug trafficking, into origination from a legitimate source. It is a crime in many jurisdictions with varying definitions.

Mortgage – a loan to finance the purchase of a property, usually with specified payment periods and interest rates. The borrower (mortgagor) gives the lender (mortgagee) a charge over the property as collateral for the loan.

Mortgage Deed – a document used when a Lender lends money to a Buyer or existing Owner.  The document is registered against the property at the Land Registry and secures repayment to the Lender.

Mortgage Offer – this specifies the terms upon which the Lender is prepared to make the loan including the specific financial details and period of repayment.

Mortgage Term – the length of time agreed for the repayment of the loan.

Mortgagee – the Lender person or Company who benefits from the Mortgage security (e.g. Bank or Building Society).

Mortgagor – the Property Owner (i.e. the Borrower) who enters into a mortgage deed in favour of a Lender.

Multi-agency – the selection of two or more estate agents to act on the seller’s behalf, usually incurring a higher fee than if the sale is completed by a sole agency.


National Park – a national park is a reserve of natural or semi-natural land, declared or owned by a government, set aside for human recreation and enjoyment, animal and environmental protection and restricted from most development. The Lake District National Park was created in 1951

Negative Equity – this refers to the situation where the value of the property is less than the amount required to pay off any mortgage or charges etc.

NHBC Scheme (National House Building Council) – a governing body for new homes who will issue a 10 year structural guarantee. Their inspectors will ensure that your new home is built properly and is safe.

No DSS – not available to those reliant on state benefits to pay their rent.


Occupier’s Consent – any person who lives at the property who is not an owner (and so will not be signing the mortgage deed) will be asked to consent to the mortgage being taken out and agree to move out if the mortgagee lender takes possession by reason of default of the owner.

Offer – the amount of money that a potential applicant offers to pay.


Party Wall – a wall owned jointly with a neighbour and repairable at joint (and normally equal) expense.

Penthouse – top floor of a multi-storey building. Generally the most desirable flat in taller buildings due to improved views, no upstairs neighbours and a greater distance from street noise.

Peppercorn Rent – this is a very low, more or less negligible rent. The term is usually used with a flat where a long lease has been sold to an owner occupier. The peppercorn rent is payable to the freeholder of the whole building.

Pied à terre – a second home for either temporary or holiday occupation.

Planning Permission – approval by the planning authority to the construction (and extension/alteration) of a property or a change of its use.

Portable Appliance Test (PAT) – test required to be taken out on electrical equipment by a registered engineer in conjunction with the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulation 1994.

Power of Attorney – a document by which someone appoints another person, to act as their attorney.

Pre-contract Enquiries – these are enquiries made by the purchaser’s solicitor to the vendor’s solicitor, requiring information relating to the property being purchased prior to exchange of contracts.

Private Road – a road which is not an adopted highway and accordingly not maintained at public expense.  Property owners need to have particular (and preferably documented) rights over it as it is not necessarily a road which offers public access.

Private Treaty – a phrase used to describe the most common method of sale of property when an asking price is advertised and offers are considered by the vendor.

Probate – the process of ‘Proving’ a persons will to enable a deceased person’s estate to be dealt with.

Property Information Form – this is a questionnaire about the property that the seller is requested to complete by their solicitor. It asks for details about the property such as details of current utility providers, boundaries, fixtures (such as double glazing) and planning permissions.

Property Management – the management of a property by an agency on behalf of an owner or group of owners.

Public Right of Way – a way where the public has a right to walk, and in some cases ride horses, bicycles, motorcycles or drive motor vehicles, which will be designated either as a footpath, a bridleway, a road used as a public path (RUPP) or a byway.

Purchaser – someone who is buying a property.

Purpose Built – refers to a collection of flats built as such rather than a conversion.

PCM – per calendar month.

PW – per week.


Radon Gas Search – a search to see if the property is affected by naturally occurring gas which may if above certain safety levels, require preventative action to be taken (e.g. more ventilation in a property).

Redemption – the repayment of an existing mortgage or loan.

Redemption Penalty – a penalty payment charged by a Lender if a loan is repaid within a period specified in the mortgage offer (some loan products only).

Redemption Statement – this details the amount it will cost you to pay back your mortgage early, and is usually made up of the amount of money you owe the lender along with a penalty for the early redemption of your mortgage.

Redress Scheme – independent professional bodies who investigate complaints on behalf of customers against estate agents, solicitors and insurance companies.

References – 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).

Regency – property built between approximately 1800 and 1837.

Reinstatement Value – a surveyor’s valuation report or survey will show the reinstatement value of the property. This figure is not the value of the property, but it is the cost of totally rebuilding the property. Any insurance you get for the property must cover a rebuilding cost at least equal to the reinstatement value of the property.

Registered Land – property which has been registered at HM Land Registry.

Renewal of Contracts – an agreement.

Rent Charge – a small charge reserved to a previous owner of land that is paid to him or his successors annually out of freehold land. It is not a rent.

Repayment Mortgage – a mortgage which involves the repayment of both capital and interest in monthly installments within a specified term of years.

Repossession – when a lender takes possession of a property after non-payment of a mortgage.

Reserve Price – properties for sale by auction are normally offered subject to a ‘reserve’ price, below which it will not be sold, in which case the property is withdrawn.

Retention – when part of a deposit is held back to cover the cost of damages/repairment for a new tenancy at the expiry of a fixed term rental period.

Room Contents Insurance – a specific policy to cover those who rent a room within a property.


Sale Agreed – a verbal agreement from the seller.

Searches – local authority search, water authority search, environment search and the land registry search.  These are basically checks through the records of public authorities for information pertaining to each search.

Seasonal Lettings – describes short term lets covering a particular time of year (eg. Summer, the duration of a particular event etc.)

Semi or Semi Detached – refers to two houses joined together.

Service Charge – a payment required by a Landlord (or managing agent) to cover the costs of insuring and/or maintaining a development or block of which the property forms part.

Share of Freehold – where a freehold is owned by a limited company and the shareholders of the company share the freehold.

Shared Equity – similar to Joint Equity  but often used in a situation where a “Shared Equity Scheme” provides a loan which acts as  part of a buyers deposit in a property purchase. There are government or Housing Association Schemes available to provide this type of purchase but not all Lenders will accept applicants.

Sharers – a term usually applied to those living in shared accommodation together.

Short Let – short lets are typically a property which is let for six months or less and include most utility bills.

Sitting Tenant – a long term tenant who has become protected by law from being removed due to their circumstances.

Sole Agent – describes when a seller chooses only one estate agent to sell their property.

Sole Selling Rights – the estate agent is the only agent with the right to sell your home during the term of the contract. The estate agent is entitled to payment, however the purchaser is found.

Solicitor – a legal representative who handles all legal documentation in the purchase and/ or sale of a property.

Stamp Duty – ‘Stamp Duty Land Tax’ a tax paid by purchasers, the amount payable depends on the value of the property. [Click here] for more details and current rates.

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 funds 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.

Subject to Contract – when an offer is made to purchase a property ‘subject to contract’, it means that all the dealings are subject to the actual exchange of the contract itself. Nothing is binding on either the vendor or purchaser until the contracts are exchanged.

Subletting – an arrangement where the existing tenant lets all or part of the property to another.

Subsidence – where a property moves due to poor construction or ground movement for geological reasons.

Superior Lease or Head Lease – it is often the case in an apartment/flat that the landlord has a leasehold interest but another individual owns the freehold. Under this lease the landlord is responsible for the obligations/covenants. When a property is let out the tenant renting a property then also has to comply with any of these obligations – e.g. not to hang out washing on a balcony etc.

Survey – inspection of property carried out on behalf of purchaser by a qualified person to establish its physical condition.

Surveyor – a professional who estimates the value of the property or land.


Telegraphic Transfer – electronic transfer of money for the purchase of a property from a lender, a fee is often charged by the solicitor.

Tenancy – the temporary residency of a property by a tenant.

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 i.e. landlord & tenants, the rental price and the property address along with the “covenants” / obligations (promises) of the let. It should be written in plain clear language.

Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme (TDPS) – deposits from tenants which are paid into a protection scheme to ensure safety and fair returns.

Tenancy in Common – another type of property ownership, in which separate owners each have a share in a property which would form part of a person’s estate and would not automatically pass to the other party/ies – unlike a ‘Joint Tenancy’.

Tenant – a person, persons (company or organisation) who are entitled to occupy a property under the terms and conditions of a tenancy agreement.

Tender – in the process known as ‘For Sale By Tender’. A guide price is provided and written offers will be invited with a closing date for such offers published. All offers are normally opened at the same time, usually with the vendor’s solicitor present. Generally the vendor is not committed to accepting the highest offer or any of the offers.

Tenure – a collective term relating to the nature of the vendor’s title to a property – i.e. freehold, leasehold or commonhold.

Term of Tenancy – length of tenancy – most initial tenancy agreements are for a minimum of six months, they can be shorter and longer.

Terrace House – a house in a row of (usually) identical properties connected to each other by shared (or ‘party’) walls.

The Property Ombudsman (TPO) – a free scheme for estate agents and letting agents to join which ensure that they provide a high level of service to sellers, buyers, landlords and tenants.

Title – an owner’s actual right of ownership (whether or not the owner is in occupation).

Title Deeds – documentation of the legal ownership of a property.

Title Insurance – a type of insurance policy that a buyer can take out on a piece of land to ensure the sale is completed when there is a potential problem with the documentation regarding the legal ownership of the land.

Title Search – an investigation, carried out by a conveyancer or solicitor, into the history of ownership of a property. The search will check for liens, unpaid claims, restrictions or any other problems that may affect ownership.

Townhouse – can refer to a style of house generally in towns or cities often with 3 or more floors.

Transaction – a dealing with property (e.g. sale or purchase or re-mortgage).

Transfer – a document which actually transfers ownership of a property from one person to another (as opposed to a Contract which may include an obligation to effect a transfer at a later date).

Transfer Deeds – a legal document that transfers the ownership from seller to the buyer.

Transfer of Equity – a document transferring ownership of a part share or interest in a property from one person to another.

Tree Preservation Order (TPO) – direction made by a local planning authority that makes it an offence to cut, top, lop, uproot or wilfully damage or destroy a tree without that authority’s permission.

Tudor – property built between approximately 1485 and 1550.


Under Offer – when a seller or landlord of a property for sale, or to rent has accepted an offer.

Undertaking – a promise which can be enforced by law. For example, a ‘Solicitors Undertaking’ which would assure a buyer that a seller of a property would pass monies from a sale to a third party.

Unregistered Land – land which is not registered with the land registry. Proof of ownership is by production of the deeds and verification of title.

Unregistered Title – a title to a property which has not been registered at the Land Registry.  The title will consist of old style conveyances and other documents.

Utilities or Services – these are normally electricity, gas and water. Under most circumstances the tenant is responsible for paying for these.


Vacant Possession – a well-used estate agency phrase, which means that the property being offered will be vacant upon completion of the sale. The property is therefore offered free from any such encumbrances as a sitting tenant or service tenancy.

Valuation/ Appraisal – an estate agents inspection of the property to give an assessment of its value in the current market.

Value – the market value of a property without influencing factors such as price reductions for quick sale.

Vendor – an older word for Seller.

Verbal Offer – offer from the prospective purchase, not legally binding on either party.

Victorian – property built between approximately 1837 and 1901.


Wayleave Agreement – a written agreement entered into with an owner to give a service provider (e.g. Electricity or Telephone company) a right for their cables to pass under or over their property.


The word meanings in this glossary are necessarily basic and are subject to exceptions.  They are not nor are intended to be legal definitions of these words.  If you encounter these words within documentation in the course of a transaction and are not wholly certain of their meaning or effect then you must ask your solicitor or conveyancer for appropriate advice.


Yard – a small enclosed garden, often finished with stone slabs, paving or concrete.

Yield – a return on an investment, such as by way of an annual rent.


Zone A – a method of valuing retail premises on the basis that the front of a shop is of greater value than the rear.