Common Housing Terms
Housing Advice

Get Clued Up!

Once you have found the property you want to sign up for it is very important that you fully understand what you are signing up to 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 any doubt, any decent Landlord or Agent should give you at least 24 hours to take the Tenancy Agreement away so that you can get independent advice on it prior to signing.

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 then 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.

Guarantor

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.

Deposit or Tenancy Deposit

Landlords will ask new tenants to pay a tenancy deposit to cover damage or unpaid rent. The deposit is usually the equivalent of a month’s rent but the landlord can choose to set the deposit at any amount.

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: www.england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/tenancy_deposits

HMO

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, ask your Landlord or agent to see a copy of the HMO licence. If your Landlord or agent refuses then contact the Leeds Beckett Student Union Advice Service for further advice.

Inventory

An inventory is a document that accurately records the contents and condition of the fixtures and fu rnishings of the property. An inventory should be taken and agreed on at the beginning of the tenancy, and another one should be taken on moving out. Make sure you keep any copies of the inventory for your records, in case a dispute should occur about any deductions taken from your deposit.

Fair wear and tear

The Tenant is usually obligated to return the property at the end of a tenancy in the same condition it was let to them in 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 at the end of the tenancy for changes 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 because the law implies it into all tenancy agreements.

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 allows the Landlord to charge to you a supplemental 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. Arrears may be a full amount for a rental period or in part

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. 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 an agency 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 then 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