Buy to let jargon explained - an A to Z

Rhys Owen, Senior Property Advisor at CPS Homes in Cardiff, South WalesRhys Owen, Senior Property Advisor, takes us through the complete A to Z of property industry jargon so you can better understand what it is we're saying to you...

For those who are entering the landlord and property investment market for the first time, it can be quite confusing to understand all of the industry jargon when speaking to industry professionals, reading blog articles or browsing real estate websites.

Planning to make a property investment can be daunting enough as there is already a whole lot of research that needs to be done (pssst, our guide to property investment may be able to help). The last thing any landlord-in-waiting wants to face is paragraph after paragraph containing acronyms and jargon that leaves them opening up multiple tabs to find out the meaning of each word and phrase.

Fortunately, we’re here to help!

Below you’ll find a nice long list containing the most common words, acronyms and phrases you’re likely to come across while either conducting your property investment research, speaking to a letting agent, property management firm or clued up tenant, dealing with contractors or simply reading your favourite property articles.

And all from A to Z!

So, go ahead and bookmark this page until they are all second nature to you.

The buy to let jargon busting list


ADR - This is an acronym for ‘Alternative Dispute Resolution’, which is the independent adjudication services that are offered by various Deposit Protection Schemes.

ARLA - This is an acronym for the Association of Residential Letting Agents. They are the UK’s most recognised industry body for letting agents, so ensure any letting agents you get on board with are ARLA protected.

Accidental Landlord - This phrase refers to someone who became a landlord without the intention of becoming a landlord. This typically happens when a property is inherited, or when owners are finding it difficult to sell a property so opt to let it out instead to at least earn some income from it. 

Arrears - This is when the rent hasn’t been paid by the tenant on time and is now owed. For example, if a tenant fails to pay rent for two months, they would be ‘two months in arrears’.

AST - This is an acronym for Assured Shorthold Tenancy, which is the default legal category of tenancy in Wales and England.

BTL - This is an acronym for ‘Buy to Let’, which is likely to be the very thing you’re hoping to do if you’re reading this list. Quite self-explanatory - it literally means buying a property to let it out. You’ll likely become very familiar with BTL mortgages soon enough.

CMP - This is an acronym for ‘Client Money Protection’, which is a scheme taken out by letting agents to protects landlord and tenant funds. CMP schemes compensate landlords and tenants should the letting agent find themselves in a position where they can’t repay the funds they owe.

Council Tax Band - A council tax band refers to the amount of council tax that needs to be paid and it relates to the value of the property. Council tax bands can differ quite a lot from property to property, so always ensure you’re aware of its council tax band so that you can budget accurately.

Deposit - When it comes to letting, a deposit is the amount taken from a tenant in a lump sum at the start of the tenancy. This deposit must be protected in a Government approved Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme for the duration of the tenancy.

EICR - This is an acronym for ‘Electrical Inspection Condition Report’ - this is an inspection that should be carried in all rental properties once every 5 years by a registered electrician.

EPC - This is an acronym for ‘Energy Performance Certificate’, which is a certificate that every property has indicating its energy efficient rating on a scale of A-G. All privately owned properties are required to score at least an E before they can be either sold or let out.

Furnished - This refers to a property that contains everything required to live in - there is no legal blueprint for what is actually required to be determined a furnished property, but generally includes things such as furniture, white goods, TV etc.

Find out what's best - furnished or unfurnished?

Gas Safety Check - A gas safety check should be carried out every year by a Gas Safe registered engineer. Tenants should receive a record of the check within 28 days of it being carried out or at the start of the tenancy.

Guarantor - A guarantor is someone who landlords can request any outstanding rent from should their tenants fail to pay.

HMO - This is an acronym for ‘House in Multiple Occupation’, which is a property that contains several individually let dwellings within one larger property with all tenants sharing communal facilities, such as the kitchen. In the UK, there are different HMO rules and legislation in place across different counties.

Learn more about what a HMO is.

Inventory - This is a document that outlines all contents within a property. They are carried out before a tenancy begins and when a tenant vacates. An inventory can help avoid or settle disputes at the end of a tenancy.

Joint Tenancy - A joint tenancy is when two or more people rent a property together. Each tenant will be equally responsible for the tenancy and all responsibilities will be shared, such as the responsibility to pay the rent and to ensure the property remain in a good condition.

Kerb Appeal - This refers to how attractive a property looks from the outside. Things such as guttering in a great condition, new exterior paint, and a well landscaped front garden can all help improve a properties kerb appeal.

Long Let - This refers to a tenancy term that lasts a long time - an average tenancy would be for 6 or 12 months, so anything beyond this could be considered a long let.

Managing Agent - This term refers to a company - usually a letting agent - that a landlord uses to manage their buy to let property.

NRL Scheme - This is an acronym for ‘Non-Resident Landlord Scheme’, which is a scheme that can be used by landlords who live abroad to pay tax when they let out a property in the UK. 

Notice Period - The notice period is the amount of time that a landlord or tenant must give before ending a tenancy.

Occupancy Rights - These are rights that are included within the tenancy agreement. They outline the rights that a tenant has to occupy the property.

PAT - This is an acronym that stands for ‘Portable Appliance Testing’. These tests are carried out by a registered electrician on electrical equipment to ensure it’s safe for use. It’s recommended that landlords have these PAT tests carried out annually or at the change of a tenancy.

PCM - This is an acronym for ‘Price Per Calendar Month’ and refers to the cost of renting a property on a monthly basis.

Reference Check - This is a check that is carried out on a tenant before the start of a tenancy. It may involve checking with the tenants employers and previous landlord, as well as credit agencies, to ensure the tenant has a good history and will be able to afford renting the property.

Right to Rent - All landlords should check that their prospective tenant has the legal right to rent in this country. This is called the tenants ‘Right to Rent’. 

Section 21 - A section 21 notice is the notice that a landlord must give to their tenant(s) if the landlord wishes to end the tenancy. It can only be served after the fixed tenancy term has come to an end, or if there is no fixed end date. The notice must be at least 2 months.

Short Let - A short let tends to refer to any tenancy that is for a term of 6 months or less.

Smart Meter - A smart meter records electricity and energy usage in close to real time. Smart meters are free and can be of great benefit to both landlords and tenants.

SDTL - This is an acronym for ‘Stamp Duty Land Tax’, which is a tax that people must pay on any property or land that is purchased over the price of £125,000.

Sub-Letting - This is when a tenant rents out either a whole property or part of a property while they are renting said property from another tenant. Tenants need prior approval from their landlord before they sub-let the property.

TDP - This is an acronym for ‘Tenancy Deposit Scheme’, which is a Government backed scheme that ensures tenants receive their deposits back at the end of the tenancy - provided the terms of the tenancy are adhered to, all rent and bills have been paid and there is no damage to the property beyond general wear and tear.

Tenancy Agreement - This is a legally binding document that includes all the details of the a tenancy. Both the landlord and tenant must read, understand and sign the agreement before the start of a tenancy.

Unfurnished - Any property listed as unfurnished means that it’s for let but without any furniture or other basic furnishing. Most unfurnished properties contain nothing but carpet, lighting, and built-in appliances.

Valuation - This is a survey of a property to give a landlord a better idea of how much rental income they could achieve when letting it out.

Viewing - A property viewing is when a prospective tenant takes a look around a home before committing to renting it out.

Void Period - This is an amount of time that passes between one tenant moving out and another moving in. Landlords typically aim to keep void periods to a minimum as while the property is empty, there is no rental income.

Wear and Tear - This refers to general damage to the property that could be deemed normal over a period of time. For example, worn carpets or minor scuff on floors and walls.

Young Professional - Letting agents often use this term when referring to a young individual, say in their mid-20s to mid-30s, with a professional occupation.

Zoopla - This is an online platform that can be used for a variety of property related things. It’s a useful tool for landlords as it’ll show properties for rent, as well as provide details such as property value and rental estimates, although it’s worth bearing in mind that they are just that - rough estimates.

So there we have it, an A to Z lowdown on some of the most popular buy to let phrases.

If you’re a landlord in Cardiff, or considering investing in the Welsh capital for the first time, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our expert lettings team here at CPS Homes. Find out how we can help by calling 02920 668585, e-mail enquiries@cpshomes.co.uk or pop into one of our branches.

13 October 2021

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