Lettings jargon - what does it all mean

Lettings jargon buster

Are you a tenant or landlord but don't know your ARLA from your NALS or your CMP from your EPC? Then our jargon-busting list of commonly used Lettings terms is just what you need.

Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA)

The professional and regulatory body for letting agents in the UK.

Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST)

The agreement which explains tenants' and landlords' rights and responsibilities and the most common form of tenancy agreement in the UK.

Break Clause

Sometimes inserted in a fixed-term tenancy, generally if the initial fixed term is for a year or more. The clause usually allows 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 early. If the initial tenancy is renewed, a break clause may be requested if either party are unsure whether they can continue the contract or not. This term may also be referred to as a Release Clause.


Country properties may not have access to public sewers, in which case sewerage will be captured by a cesspit. Cesspits are typically emptied on a regular basis.


The process of settling a tenant into a rental property. It should include an inventory which describes in detail the condition of the property prior to the tenant moving in. The cost can be shared between the landlord and the tenant.


The process of moving the tenant out of the property and making sure the property is being returned in the same condition as it was originally let. The cost can be shared between the landlord and the tenant.

Client Money Protection (CMP)

An insurance scheme that covers any money handled by your letting agent, whether you are a landlord, tenant or other client. Provided by professional bodies such as ARLA.


An agreement to refrain from or engage in a specified action that is laid out in the terms of the tenancy agreement. This refers to obligations or promises made by either the Landlord or Tenant.

Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

A legally required assessment of how energy efficient a residential property is. It is valid for 10 years and is required for all properties advertised for sale or rent unless the property is a listed building.

Green Deal

A Government scheme which helps fund energy-saving home improvements that make a rental property more efficient.

Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) 

A property, located over three floors or more, which is rented to at least five tenants forming more than two households and sharing toilet, bathroom, kitchen and other facilities require a licence. It can also apply to ground-floor commercial premises. An HMO can also be unlicensed but all HMOs are required to meet special regulations.


An essential service which protects both the tenant and landlord. It details the condition of the property and any items the landlord has left in it during the tenancy. The inventory is referred to on check-in and check-out and is paid for by both the tenant and the landlord. Usually a landlord cost.

Land Registry

A service in England and Wales which tracks the ownership and possession of a property and land rights.

Managing Agent

A professional or company responsible under an agency agreement for the maintenance and management of the property.


National Approved Lettings Scheme. Estate agents may become members and must have defined standards of customer service including having Client Money Protection. They must have a written customer complaints procedure offering independent redress through an ombudsman, as well as have a current Professional Indemnity Insurance and a designated client bank account. These requirements, and service standards, provide protection and security for both the tenant and the landlord.

Portable Appliance Testing (PAT)

Testing for small electrical movable goods such as microwave, lamps and kettles to ensure they are safe. Tests must be carried out by a competent person. 


The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) is the world's leading professional body for qualifications and standards in land, property and construction.

Safeagent (launched by NALS)

Agents who belong to Safeagent have Client Money Protection which safeguards landlords and tenants money.

Stamp Duty Land Tax

A tax payable to HMRC by tenants if the rental paid accumulates to more than £125,000.00. There is a 3.5 per cent discount, then the tax is due at 1 per cent of the amount of rental paid in excess of the accumulated amount.

Tenancy agreement

A legally binding document containing details of the rental terms, sometimes referred to as the rental agreement. It notes the parties, i.e. the landlord and tenant(s), the rental price and the property address along with the Covenants/obligations of the let.

Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS)

There are three Government approved schemes for the protection of tenancy deposits and the resolution of disputes between landlords, agents and tenants concerning the return of deposits at the end of a tenancy. The TDS is a mandatory scheme set up in accordance with the Housing Act 2004 and requires tenants' deposits to be protected either by a third party or via insurance. 


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