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Property Jargon Glossary

When buying or renting a new home, you will hear a lot of words or phrases being used by those in the property industry which may not make much sense to you at first. To give you some clarity, we’ve put together a glossary of property terms so you never feel left out of any important conversations.

ARLA / NAEA Propertymark

An important symbol to look out for when choosing an estate agent as it signifies they are members of the UK’s largest professional body for both sales and letting agents.

Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST)

This is a common rental agreement for properties with annual rents of less than £25,000 per annum. It is handed out for the first period of the tenancy for a fixed period.

Break Clause

For tenancies of a year or more, this clause can be inserted into a fixed term agreement. It allows either party to provide written notice after a set period or date to end the tenancy earlier than the initial agreed fixed term.

Building Inspection

A report carried out by a surveyor to detail the condition of a property. This is produced in a written report, highlighting any issues or defects that affect the structural integrity of the building.

Chain

When a seller is also buying a new home, the person they are buying it from will also be looking to purchase their own property. This means the purchase of a new home will affect the buyer’s ability to sell their own.

Completion Date

This refers to the moment when the buyer is handed the keys to the property and the sale of the property is concluded.

Completion Statement

Your solicitor or conveyancer will provide you with a full statement listing all of the financial transactions and costs related to the deal.

Conditions of Sale

The terms of the sale agreed between the buyer and seller, which may also include special conditions added by either party.

Contract

A legal document covering the full terms of the sale and purchase of the property. A draft is sent to the buyer once a sale is agreed, with an exchange of contracts between both taking place at a later date that makes the sale official.

Conveyancer

This can be either a licensed conveyancer, or solicitor, who will manage the legal aspects of buying or selling a property. Both buyer and seller will have their own conveyancer during the process.

Conveyancing

Relates to the process carried out by a conveyancer when transferring ownership of a property from one party to another.

Covenants

Rules related to the property as stated in the lease or deed documents.

Credit Search References

Carried out by landlords or estate agents when tenants make an application to rent a property. It involves contacting an external credit agency to check the applicant’s credit history to see how reliable they are when paying bills.

Deeds

A legal document that covers the full details of who owns a property.

Deposit

When buying a property, this is the large sum of money paid to the seller when contracts are exchanged. The amount varies depending on the mortgage obtained by the buyer.

Those renting will pay a deposit that is retained in a safe tenancy deposit scheme for the duration of the tenancy. For annual rental amounts of less than £50,000, the maximum deposit is six weeks rent.

Deposit Protection Service

This is a government authorised service that is free to use and where every tenant’s deposit must be placed by either the landlord or letting agent. Full information and contact details must be given to the tenant and it will then be returned at the end of the tenancy.

Dilapidations

An inventory of items left in a rented property is usually taken before the tenant moves in. Dilapidations are a list of any items that may have been damaged, with the tenant typically responsible for covering the cost.

Draft Contract

The first version of the contract that can be amended and updated as the sale progresses until it is finalised and prepared for the exchange close to the end.

EPC

The Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) details the energy efficiency and carbon emissions of the property. It is displayed as two graphs, with the property graded between A to G – the latter being the worst rating.

Exchange of Contracts

When the buyer and seller exchange contracts via conveyancers, this is the point when the deal becomes official. If required, the buyer is then able to pay a holding deposit on the property.

Fixtures and Fittings

When buying a property this is a list of items that are included with the property or land. Depending on what’s agreed, not everything is automatically included, with some items being sold by the buyer separately.

Any furniture pieces, appliances, carpets etc. included with a rental agreement should be discussed before the signing of any agreement.

Freehold

Buyers purchasing a freehold property will have ownership of both the building and the land and will be responsible for their upkeep.

Gas Safety Record

This should be provided by landlords before a tenant moves in and then once a year by a qualified CORGI engineer who will visit the property to check that all gas appliances, pipework and flues are safe.

Ground Rent

Leaseholders have to pay this charge set by the property freeholder on an annual basis.

Holding Deposit

If the contracts are being exchanged, the buyer can pay a holding deposit – although not all sellers ask for this. If required, the buyer will pay it to their conveyancer who will deal with the transfer of funds.

Home Buyer Survey

This is a report compiled to tell the buyer about the condition of the property before purchase. It will highlight any defects and major issues of concern, although not related to the structural survey.

Indemnity Insurance

The conveyancer will take this out for protection for losses to clients, relating to fraud or errors when dealing with their application.

Inventory

This will list all of the items included with a rental property, plus their condition before the tenant moves in. A dilapidation report is then conducted when the tenancy ends.

Land Registry

A government department that keeps historical records of land ownership and any mortgages that have been held on the property. The conveyancer will pay Land Registry fees to conclude the transfer of ownership of the property while updating details about the new owner.

Leasehold

A leaseholder has the right to live on the land for a fixed period – typically for 99, 125 or 999 years – usually for flats, although it can also be for houses.

Legal Fee

The conveyancer will charge this for the work they have carried out during the buying and selling process.

Listed Building

These are buildings with historical value that are given a grading so they are used, maintained and repaired to meet certain standards.

Local Authority Search

The buyer’s conveyancer will contact the local authority to see if there are any specific matters that affect the property about to be purchased.

Maintenance/Service Charge

Leasehold properties may be subject to an additional charge related to the maintenance or insurance of the building – this is especially true of flats and apartments.

Maisonette

This is classed as a property with two floors and its own entrance inside a larger building.

Open House

Buyers can arrange a specific time slot, or visit a property within a fixed window to take a closer look and ask initial questions.

Open Market Value

This is the estimated amount a property could sell for, based on the professional opinion of the agent who is facilitating the sale.

Property Auctions

A sale of a property conducted by an auctioneer, which is done in a traditional physical setting or online. Competing buyers will make bids with the highest bidder winning the auction.

The Property Obudsman

An agency that provides an independent and free service to help resolve disagreements between sales and letting agents who are members of the body. Buyers and sellers of property can also use the service. Visit The Property Obudsman website for more details.

Purchaser

This is the person who is buying the property.

Repossession

If the property owner is unable to pay their mortgage, the lender may claim ownership of the property as per the terms of the mortgage agreement.

Share of Freehold

A limited company who owns the freehold of a property, while the shareholders of the business are also the property owners. In most cases this relates to flats located inside the building.

Stamp Duty

A tax that must be paid on properties being purchased. The amount depends on value and whether or not it is a first-time buyer.

Subject to Contract

Until the contracts are exchanged, the contract is not legally binding and one party or the other can still pull out of the deal.

Survey

A qualified building surveyor will carry this out to check for any structural faults in the building. There are three different types of survey that can be conducted, depending on how much information is required.

Tenancy

The period in which a property is occupied by a tenant under the terms of an agreed lease.

Tenancy Agreement

This is the contract drawn up by the landlord and tenant setting out the terms of the tenancy.

Tenant

The person(s) who will be renting the property under the terms of the tenancy.

Tenure

The type of ownership an individual has of a property, be it freehold or leasehold.

Under Offer

If a seller accepts an offer from a buyer then the property is classed as being ‘under offer’ which begins the next stage of the process.

Valuation

Estate agents often use this term when carrying out an assessment on how much the property could sell for on the market. Letting agents can also carry out valuations to find out the rental value of a property.

Vendor

This is the person selling the property.