Page:Common Housing Terms
Common Housing Terms

Information correct as of April 2021. You are advised to contact the Students’ Union Advice Service for advice specific to your circumstances before taking any action. If you find any broken links please let us know as links may change without us being notified.

Housing Advice

Get Clued Up!

Once you have found a property, it is important that you fully understand what you are signing up for, as your Tenancy Agreement is a legally binding document. We have included a glossary of some of the most common terms you will find in tenancy agreements to help you understand what those terms mean. However, if you are in any doubt, a good landlord or agent should give you at least 24 hours to seek independent advice prior to signing the agreement.

Leeds Beckett Students’ Union offers a free Tenancy Agreement checking service, so if you have any questions or concerns about the tenancy agreement that you have been asked to sign, please get in touch with us for advice.

Tenancy Terms

Joint and Several Liability

When you sign a tenancy agreement for a shared house with other tenants then this is likely to be a ‘joint’ contract. ‘Joint and Several Liability’ means that all the rights, obligations, and costs that arise from the tenancy apply to everyone named on the Tenancy Agreement until the tenancy ends. So, if something is damaged, you are all responsible for paying for it. If one person falls behind in paying their rent, then all of the tenants will be liable for covering that short fall.


Some Landlords will ask you to provide a guarantor before they will agree to let a property to you. The guarantor in effect guarantees that they will undertake the full obligations under the tenancy agreement on the tenant’s behalf. If for some reason the tenant cannot pay the rent, the guarantor agrees to make the payments.

Please be aware that if you sign a joint tenancy then your Guarantor could also be signing up to be jointly liable to cover the outstanding costs of the other tenants. This is why we would recommend that your Guarantor seeks their own legal advice on the agreement before signing.

Tenancy Deposit

Landlords will ask new tenants to pay a tenancy deposit to cover damage or unpaid rent.

Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme

Any landlord or agent who takes a deposit is obliged to protect your deposit with a government registered Tenancy Deposit Scheme and provide you with ‘prescribed’ information within 30 days of taking your deposit. There are three Government-backed schemes. Registration with these schemes will ensure that your deposit is returned at the end of the tenancy as long as you meet the terms of your tenancy agreement; i.e. you do not damage the property and pay your rent and bills.

Your Landlord or letting agent must register your deposit in the scheme within 30 days of receiving it. Failure to do so can make them liable to pay you compensation. You will be able to check that your deposit has been protected using the following link to the website for Shelter-National Housing Charity.


HMO stands for ‘Houses in Multiple Occupation’ and are properties that require a license issued by the council. They are defined as properties that have 5 or more tenants (forming two or more households) who share an amenity such as a kitchen, toilet, bathroom or lounge and are comprised of 3 or more stories (this includes cellars, basements and loft conversions).

The reason that HMO Licensing exists is that there are more risks and hazards associated with larger numbers of people residing in a property and additional measures need to be put into place to keep residents safe.

If you are going to rent this kind of property, landlord or agent for a copy of the HMO licence. If your landlord or agent refuses then contact the Students' Union Advice Service for further advice.


Ensure that you go through the inventory provided when you move into the property or produce your own if you have not been given one. This must be detailed and signed by all parties showing that you agree to the contents and condition of the property at the point at which you move in. 

Note any damage or disrepair on the inventory as necessary before returning it to the landlord. Ensure that you keep a signed copy of the inventory for your own records. This will help to protect you against any claims the letting agent/landlord may make on the deposit at the end of the tenancy.

Fair Wear and Tear

At the end of the tenancy, the property and its’ contents should be returned in the same condition that it was let, allowing for fair wear and tear. Fair wear and tear is the normal loss in value that occurs when something is used over a period of time, as opposed to either intentional or accidental damage or neglect.

A Landlord cannot ask the tenant to pay for repairs or replacement caused by fair wear and tear.

Right to Quiet Enjoyment

Tenants have the right to enjoy their home undisturbed. This is called ‘quiet enjoyment.’ You have this right even if your tenancy agreement doesn’t expressly state it as it is implied by law.

Quiet enjoyment means that your landlord must let you live in your home without unnecessary interference. Your landlord or their agent, has the right to access your home to see what repair work is needed and to carry out repairs. However, unless it is an emergency, they must give you at least 24 hours' notice in writing.

If your landlord wants to enter your home for any other reason, for example, to show round a new tenant, or to inspect the property, they can only do this with your agreement or in accordance with any reasonable term set out in your tenancy agreement.

Bills Inclusive

Your rent may be inclusive of some or all of the utility bills. Make sure that you understand which bills are included in your rent and which are not. Also be aware that some Tenancy Agreements will require you to sign up with a Bill Management Company. If this is the case, make sure you understand what you are being required to sign up to and how you are expected to manage your account.

Fair Usage Policy

If your rent is inclusive of utility bills check the Tenancy Agreement to see if there are any upper limits on usage, which allow the landlord to charge to you a supplementary fee for excess usage. Also, check your liability for any bills that are not included within the contract.

Holding Deposit

A holding deposit is an amount of money paid to a landlord or letting agent to reserve a rental property before the signing of a tenancy agreement. A holding deposit is normally non-refundable if you were to withdraw your application for the tenancy.

Arrears or Rent Arrears

Rent that is outstanding.

Gas Safety Regulations

It is the landlord’s legal responsibility to ensure that a gas safety check is carried out prior to letting a property and then every year after that. The check must be carried out by an authorised Gas Safe registered engineer and a copy of the record must also be given to the tenant.

Managing Agent

An agent or company responsible under a tenancy agreement for the maintenance and management of the property. Not all properties are professionally managed so your landlord may be responsible for the maintenance of the property. If you are unsure of who is responsible for managing the property and who you will need to report repair issues to, clarify this prior to signing your Tenancy Agreement.

Tenant-Like Manner

There is often a clause within tenancy agreements for the tenant to use the property in a ‘tenant-like manner’. This means that tenants are expected to do the little jobs about the place to keep the property in order. Examples of the kinds of things a landlord might reasonably expect a tenant to do are: emptying the bins on a regular basis, keeping toilets clear, replacing lightbulbs and unblocking sinks and drains etc. If you are in any doubt about what the landlord expects you to do, then check with them.

Right to Rent

The ‘Right to Rent’ scheme came into force on 1 February 2016. This scheme requires landlords of residential premises to check the immigration status of prospective tenants and other occupiers and to ascertain whether those parties have the right to be in the UK.

Contact the Advice Service