Jargon Buster

Assured Shorthold Tenancy - A type of assured tenancy under the housing act 1988, granted for a fixed or periodic term, giving the tenant limited security of tenure. The AST is now an automatic default tenancy between a landlord and tenant of a residential property. A landlord must give at least 2 months notice to end the AST. Tenants have security for a fixed term period or six months, whichever is longer.

Company Let - A lease of a residential property to a company, i.e. a registered private limited company or a public limited company (plc). Such leases are not covered by the Housing Act 1988. The company, not the actual occupant(s), is the tenant.

Contract - The legal term for payment (one of the essential elements of a legally binding contract). The consideration does not necessarily have to be money – it can be goods or property. Also, the consideration does not have to reflect fair value.

Dutch Auction – The term for the informal bidding that takes place when two or more potential buyers are outbidding each other for a property.

Edwardian – Property built between approximately 1901 and 1918

Engrossment A legal document, written in its final form.

Freehold – The highest legal estate that can be held in land, where the owner has permanent and absolute tenure and can dispose of the land as they wish.

Gazumping – Where a seller accepts (subject to contract) an offer from a buyer, but at a later date the seller will not exchange contracts unless more money is paid, probably because another buyer has offered more money for the property.  There is no legal obligation to the first buyer buy the seller, providing all negotiations are subject to contract.

Gazundering – Where a buyer refuses to exchange contacts unless the price is reduced.  This normally happens when the market is very slow with few buyers having a wide choice of property for sale.

Georgian – Property built between approximately 1714 and 1830

Ground Rent - Effectively is the rent you pay for the ground your property sits on

Landlord - A person who owns, or has a right to live in, a property and has the right to lease to another person.

Leasehold – Where a tenant is granted exclusive possession of land by the freeholder for a fixed period. 

Multiple Agency – Where a seller appoints more than one agency to act, with each agency acting independently of the others.  Commission is paid to the agent who introduces a buyer.

Notice To Quit/Notice To Eviction - A notice given by either a landlord or a tenant to end a tenancy. The notice has to be in writing and give at least four weeks notice.

Periodic Tenancy - A tenancy for a fixed term, short period, for example one month, which continues on a period-by-period basis, for example, from month by month, for an indefinite period. The tenancy can be ended by either part providing the notice has been given in writing and give at least four weeks.

Post-war property – property built between approximately 1945 and 1970

Prefab – A prefabricated housing unit made of timber, concrete and steel. Prefabs were developed as a short-term programme after the Second World War, although some examples still exit today

Section 21 - A notice served under section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 to regain possession of an Assured Shorthold Tenancy. A section 21 notice must be in writing and warn the tenant that a court order is needed to enforce possession, but the landlord does not have to give a reason for needing possession.

Service Charge – Service charges are levied by landlords to recover the costs they incur in providing services to a dwelling such as maintenance of common parts etc.

Sinking Fund - A sinking fund is a sum of money set up to build up an amount to pay for major work, usually  to a block of flats such as replacing a roof or door-entry system

Sole Agency – Where a seller gives instructions, usually for a specified period, to one agent only to act in the disposal of land or property.

Subject to contract – When an offer is made to purchase  ‘subject to contract’ all dealings are subject to the actual exchange of the contract itself.  Nothing is binding on either the seller or the buyer until the contracts are exchanged.

Tenancy - A contractual document setting out an agreement between a landlord and a tenant for the tenant to live in a property for a set period.

Tenant - A person given the right by the landlord to live in a property for a set period.

Tenure - A collective term relating to the nature of the owners title to a property, i.e. the way the land is legally held. This may be freehold or leasehold.

Victorian – Property built between approximately 1837 and 1901