From buy-to-let to AST, these are the bits of renting jargon you need to know

Looking for a place to rent? (Picture: Getty Images)

When you’re hunting down a place to rent, you’re likely to come across all sorts of strange terms in listings, contracts, and spoken by estate agents bigging up a property.

It’s important to know what these things mean so you know what you’re getting for what you pay – and to make sure you’re not getting a bad deal simply because you aren’t sure what someone’s on about.

It can feel embarrassing to admit that you don’t know what an AST or ESP is, though, so rather than suggesting you interrupt someone’s spiel on a property viewing to ask what they’re on about, we’re here to help.

We chatted with rental site Movebubble to break down some of the common renting jargon you’re likely to spot while flat hunting.


Unpaid rent that is outstanding to the landlord.


The AST is an acronym for Assured Shorthold Tenancy. This is the most common form of contract between tenants and property owners and it details the conditions of the tenancy. Once the AST is signed, sealed and delivered – you’re ready to move into your new home.

Break clause

A provision built into your agreement that allows you or the landlord to end the tenancy early, such as allowing you to move out after six months with no notice.

It’s worth asking if there’s a break clause built into your contract so you’re aware of just how secure your tenancy is – and how easy it will be to leave if you need to.


Build-to-Rent represents homes built exclusively for renters and build on the idea of holistic living for renters. Instead of dealing with a landlord, you rent from the operators of the Build-to-Rent building.


Buy-to-let is the name given to properties bought by a landlord specifically to rent it out.

Check in and check out

This is a tad more involved than a hotel check in.

Before you move into a property, a managing agent or landlord will conduct a check-in. They essentially walk you around the home and point out anything you need to know, such as the location of smoke alarms, how locks work and the locations of gas and electric meters.

The check-out takes place at the end of the tenancy and compares the property to its pre-move in condition (minus fair wear and tear).

It’s worth taking pictures and making note of any issues when you move in, so the landlord can’t later use, say, a broken window that was like that when you go there, to keep money from your deposit.

Contents insurance

Insurance that covers the personal items of a renter, including furniture, computers, jewellery, etc, rather than the actual property.

Credit search

A search done online to check your credit history and make sure you’re not someone who’s unlikely to pay their rent on time.

You can check your own credit score first if you’re worried!


Items that have been damaged during the tenancy and are counted as the fault of the renter.

Learn the lingo before you sign that letting agreement (Picture: Getty Images)


An energy performance certificate lets you know a property’s energy efficiency. Landlords are required by law to provide a valid EPC that has a rating of E or higher.

Fixtures and fittings

Items provided by the landlord at the start of the tenancy. Double check what’s included, especially if your flat is listed as ‘furnished’!


The gas safety record is a certificate that states all gas appliances, pipework and flues are safe in the property. Landlords are legally required to provide a gas safety check every 12 months.


Someone who guarantees the rent if you are unable to make payments – so yes, if you decided to ditch your flat and just not pay your rent, they would need to front the money.

Your guarantor will need to sign the contract when you let the flat.

Holding deposit

The amount you pay to secure the property after a ‘let agreed’ occurs.

The holding deposit is typically one week’s rent and is deducted from the first month’s rental payment.


The letting agent or landlord records an inventory which states the contents and condition of the property. The inventory is then used at check-in and check-out to cross-reference the overall conditions of the home before and after you move in.

Let agreed

Every renter and landlord looks forward to hearing the all-important ‘let agreed’; which means a deal in principle has been agreed for the rental property. Once a let is agreed and you pay the holding deposit (more on that later), the property will be removed from the rental market.

Managing agent

The agent who looks after the property and manages aspects like maintenance repairs.

Notice period

The amount of time a landlord or renter needs to provide before the tenancy is ended and the renter moves out.

Again, make sure to ask about this before you sign a contract.

Double check what fixtures and fittings are included (Picture: Getty Images)


Per calendar month, meaning rent that’s paid 12 times a year rather than on a weekly basis.


Per week.

Right to rent

The right to rent check shows that you can legally rent a property in the UK. Landlords and agents are required to perform a right to rent check before you move into the property.

Security deposit

A deposit held against the property in case you are responsible for any damages during the tenancy. Security deposits are capped at five week’s rent, so if you’re asked for more, raise the alarm.


When several renters live together but don’t form an official family.


When a renter lets part of the property (or all of it) to someone else. Remember – you must have permission from the landlord to sublet.


Tenancy deposit scheme, which is an official scheme where the landlord must hold your security deposit.

Wear and tear

Natural damage that inevitably happens in a property over time. Renters are not liable for wear and tear, as it’s considered the result of ageing and the property being lived in.

Zero deposit scheme

Zero deposit replaces the traditional security deposit (more on that later too), which currently sees renters paying five week’s worth of rent. The scheme is designed to help tenants so they don’t need to pay a full security deposit before moving in.

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