Glossary of Terms

Here at Oulsnam we understand that the property market can be a bewildering and confusing place owing to the amount of specific legal, financial, and architectural terms that crop up when attempting to sell, rent, or buy a house or flat. This is why we present an easy-to-use Jargon Buster glossary of technical terms that can be consulted for guidance. The Jargon Buster covers terms including those that feature in property descriptions and detail specifics of the condition of the house or flat; legal terms used in tenancy agreements and contracts; and financial terms used in mortgage and insurance documents.

Words Definitions

Accident Sickness and Unemployment (ASU)

Insurance to cover regular mortgage payments if you’re unable to work for a period of time due to an accident or sickness or unemployment.


An imperial unit of area (4840 square yards) used in the United Kingdom. One acre is also 4046.9 square metres.

Agreement in Principal (AIP)

When a mortgage consultant provides advice to a person seeking a mortgage before they actually submit the application to obtain the mortgage offer, they may be provided with an Agreement in Principal (AIP) which is a form which sets out the amount of money that that person can borrow and is usually approved by a building society.


Pebbles, shingle, gravel etc. used in the manufacture of concrete, and in the construction of “soakaways”.

Annual Percentage Rate

(APR) the total cost of a loan, including all costs, interest charges and arrangement fees shown as a percentage rate and easily comparable with mortgage interest rates.


Joinery moulding around window or doorway.

Arrangement Fees

Charge to arrange a loan on certain products. Usually applied to loans where a special interest rate applies e.g. fixed or capped rates.


Bitumen based substance, incorporates crushed stone strongly adhesive and impervious to moisture. Used on flat roofs and floors.


The transfer of ownership of an insurance policy or lease on a property.

Assured Shorthold Tenancies

Assured Shorthold Tenancies (or Shorthold Tenancies) are a tenancy for a period of time and thereafter monthly unless either party end the agreement and are unlike assured tenancies as they do not give long-term security.They are not regulated by usual rent controls.

Assured Tenancies

Assured Tenancies (unlike Shorthold Tenancies) are a tenancy for a period of time and thereafter monthly which give long-term security as the landlord does not have an automatic right of possession when he wants. They are not regulated by usual rent controls.


The sale of a property to the highest bidder.

Basic Variable Mortgage Rate

Mortgage lender’s standard rate of interest which may be increased or decreased periodically by the lender depending on prevailing economic conditions.

BACS or Bankers Automated Clearing Services

A United Kingdom scheme for the electronic processing of financial transactions. Payments and transfers within the system take from 1 to 3 days to be processed and cleared.

Boundary Dispute

A dispute between two or more parties as to the exact line the boundary between their properties takes.

Bridging Loan

A temporary loan providing financial cover which allows a purchaser to complete on the purchase of a new property before selling the previous property.

Building Insurance

Insurance taken out by the owner of the property to insure the property against risks such as fire, landslip etc. The responsibility to insure the property often passes to the buyer on exchange of contracts.

Building Survey

An in depth inspection of a property and its structure usually carried out for the purchaser to provide a report setting out its defects.

Buy to Let

This is where a buyer purchases a property with the intention of letting it out to receive an income.There are usually mortgages specific to this type of purchase known as Buy to Let mortgages.

Buy to Let Mortgage

A type of mortgage specifically designed for people buying a property with the intention of letting it out.


A person who is buying a property.


The amount of the loan on which interest is calculated.

Capped Mortgage

Normally agreed for a fixed period of time, many lenders provide mortgages with an upper limit on the interest rate. Thus if the standard interest rate is lower than the upper limit you will be charged the lower rate, but if the standard variable rate is higher you will be charged at the agreed, or capped, rate.

Capital Gains Tax Valuation

A valuation of property at specific times which is then used in the calculation of Capital Gains Tax.

Cavity Wall

A wall built in two sections to provide a cavity in between for insulation which may or may not be filled with insulation material, traditionally the outer wall in in brick and the inner wall in block and they are tied together with wall ties.


In the UK a cesspit is a sealed tank for the reception and temporary storage of sewage.Because it is sealed, the tank must be emptied frequently – in many cases as often as weekly.Because of the need for frequent emptying, the cost of maintenance of a cesspit can be very high.


The situation that occurs when a sequence of buyers are each reliant upon the completion of the sale of their existing property in order to purchase a new property.

Chartered Surveyor

A member or fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors is a person qualified to provide specialist services relating to property.


The Council of Mortgage Lenders, which has devised the Mortgage Code to ensure lenders treat customers fairly.

Common Land

Common land, or just common, is frequently used to describe a parcel of land, usually near the centre of towns and villages, which is thought to be owned ‘in common’ by all the members of the community.


The point at which all transactions concerning the property’s sale are concluded and the buyer pays the money for the property and legal transfer of ownership passes to the buyer.

Compulsory Purchase Valuation

A valuation of property at a specific time which is used in the assessment of value when a compulsory purchase order has been issued.

Conditions of Sale

The details which determine the rights and duties of the buyer and seller. These may be national, statutory, or the Law Society’s conditions.

Contents Insurance

Insurance to cover any loss or damage to your possessions within the property.


A legal agreement between the seller and buyer of a property which binds both parties to complete the transaction.

Contract Race

When two parties have made an offer on the same house and both request and receive a contract to purchase. The vendor will sell to the first party to exchange contracts, ie: it’s a race!


A qualified individual such as a solicitor or licensed conveyancer who deals with the legal aspects of buying or selling a property.


Traditional term for the legal work involved in the purchase and sale of a property.

Corgi Registered

CORGI stands for the Council of Registered Gas Installers which is a regulatory body for those working with gas. It is illegal to work on gas without being CORGI registered. CORGI registered gas installers have passed recognised exams to prove their competence. Always look for a CORGI logo and ID badge when employing someone to work on gas.


Ornamental moulded projection around the top of a building or around the wall of a room just below the ceiling.


Rules and regulations governing the property, contained in its title deeds or lease.


A curved moulding at the junction between wall and ceiling.

Critical Illness Insurance

The sum insured is paid out if you are diagnosed as having contracted one of a specified range of critical illnesses.

Dado Rail

Wooden moulding fixed horizontally to a wall, about 1 metre (3ft 4in) above the floor, originally intended to protect the wall against damage by chair-backs.

Damp Proof Course

A layer of impervious material laid in a wall to prevent moisture penetration.The most common is at ground floor level but could also been seen around windows and in chimneys. Vertical damp proof courses are used in cavity wall construction.


Legal title documents proving ownership. The deeds will often be held by a mortgage lender.


A sum of money (usually 10%) paid by the buyer on exchange of contracts.


Term used to describe a property that stands alone and is separated from all others.


A group of newly built residences.


The disrepair or damage to property.This is used frequently with rented properties when a schedule of dilapidations will be prepared.


Fees paid by the buyer’s solicitor on the buyer’s behalf such as stamp duty, land registry and search fees.


Paying off a mortgage.

Discounted Rate

The lender offers a discounted rate on the mortgage’s standard variable rate for an agreed period of time.

Dispute Service

The Dispute Service is an independent, not-for-profit company established in 2003 to resolve complaints and disputes arising in the private rented sector, over the return of tenants deposits, speedily, cost-effectively and fairly.


Dormer is a structural element of a building that protrudes from the plane of a sloping roof surface. Dormers are used, either in original construction or as later additions, to create usable space in the roof of a building by adding headroom and usually also by enabling addition of windows.

Double Glazing

Windows that have two layers of glass to keep a building warm or to reduce noise from outside.

Down Valuation

An appraisal of the value of the property where the value is lower than asking price.

Draft Contract

Preliminary, unconfirmed version of the contract.

Drainage reports

This is a report into all of the drains connected to a property as to whether there are any defects to them. Because the drains cannot be seen it may include the use of a video camera that is put down the drain to film its condition or it may involve sealing the drain to see if there is a leak or using dyes to trace the course of drains.

Drainage Search

An environmental search relating to the drainage systems of a property.

Dry Rot

(Serpula Lacrymans.) A fungus which attacks structural and joinery timbers, often with devastating results. Can flourish in moist, unventilated areas.

Early Redemption Charge (ERC)

A charge made by the lender if the borrower terminates a mortgage in advance of the terms of the particular mortgage. Normally occurs when the borrower has benefited from reduced payments or cash back in the early period of a mortgage.


A right over the land of another for a specific purpose such as a drain or cable.


The overhang at the lower edge of a roof.

Electrical report

This is a report into all of the electrical wiring in a building from the fuse board through to the power and light points and cooker and immersion points.

End Terrace

Terraced House is a property which forms part of a connected row of houses.The End Terrace is the property on either end of such a row of houses.

Endowment Mortgage

Interest repayments on a loan on property together with monthly premiums which create an insurance (or endowment policy) designed to generate sufficient funds to pay off the loan at the end of the term.

Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

Energy Performance Certificates tell you how energy efficient a home is on a scale of A-G. The most efficient homes – which should have the lowest fuel bills – are in band A.


The process of asking a question.

Enquiries Before Contract

Questions raised by a solicitor after the title and ownership of a property during the purchasing process and prior to the exchange of contracts.

Environmental Search

This is a search that the conveyancer carries out to check whether there are any environmental issues affecting a property. These may include matters such as flooding, coal mining and land fill.


The difference between the value of a property and the amount of mortgage owed.

Equity Release

When a new or larger mortgage is taken out to free some of the equity that has built up in your property.

Estate Agency Act

An act of Parliament which regulates the sale of property.

Estate Agent

The person or company employed to sell a property.


The initial sum you have to pay on an insurance claim.

Exchange of Contracts

The point at which signed contracts are physically exchanged, legally committing the buyer and seller to the purchase and sale of a property at the agreed price and on an agreed date, i.e. the date of completion.

Failed Valuation Survey

When the lender turns down your mortgage application after the surveyor’s valuation report indicates the property is not worth the sum sought.


A horizontal piece (such as a board) covering the joint between the top of a wall and the projecting eaves of the roof; also called fascia board.

Financial Advisor

A person or company who is qualified to arrange the mortgage or finance to purchase a property and in addition, life insurance and mortgage protection insurance.They may also be qualified to arrange pensions.They are regulated by the Financial Services Authority. (FSA)

Financial Services Authority (FSA)

Regulator of all providers of financial services in the UK.

Fixed Rate Mortgage

A mortgage in which the interest rate is set for an agreed period of time.

Fixture and Fittings

These are non structural items found in a property and may or may not be attached to the property.They would include carpets, curtains, wall lights, fires, kitchen fittings etc.In the sale a schedule will set out what is included and what is not.

Flexible Mortgage

An arrangement whereby you can increase or decrease your mortgage repayments.

Floor Slab

This is part of the structure of the building and is usually a solid substance such as concrete and forms the structure for the floor.

Flying Freehold

Where a part of one freehold property is built over part of another so that it does not touch the ground.


Fellow of the National Association of Estate Agents.


Concrete or brick set in the ground usually on bed rock that support the walls of the house and forms part of the foundations.


The part of a building where all loads are transferred to the ground.


Technical word for the ownership of the property, meaning that it belongs to the owner without limitation of time.

Gable End

A section of wall forming the end of a building usually a triangle enclosed by the sloping ends of the roof.

Gas Check

This is a survey of the gas pipes and gas equipment in a building by a Corgi registered plumber who is qualified to carry out such a survey and provide a gas safety certificate.


This is when a seller having accepted an offer from one party but have not yet exchanged contracts subsequently gets a higher offer and agrees to sell to that third party.


When a buyer offers the seller a lower offer than previously agreed just before contracts are about to be exchanged.

Grant of Probate/Representation

An order of the Court that provides the executor the authority to administer a deceased person estate under a will.

Ground Rent

The annual rent levied by the freeholder to the leaseholder.


The lender may sometimes require a borrower to appoint a guarantor. This is someone who promises to pay the borrowers debt if the borrower defaults.


An opening into a drain, normally at ground level, placed to receive water etc. from down pipes and waste pipes.

Head Lease

A person holding a freehold property may grant a lease under which another person (a lessee or tenant) has the right to the property for a period of time paying a rent.The lessee may in turn grant a sub or underlease under which he gives the rights to the property to another person (a sublessee or underlessee) for a period of time and paying a rent.The first or original lessee holds the head lease.


Metric unit of area equal to 10,000 square meters, or 2.471 acres.


Homes of Multiple Occupancy where a building is divided into two or more flats or rooms to rent.

Home Information Pack

Introduced in 2007, it requires a purchaser to provide a pack including the energy performance certificate and details of title, local authority water and drainage searches before the property can be marketed.

Homebuyers Survey

This is an inspection of a residential property by a Chartered Surveyor carried out in a prescribed manner reporting all defects in the property and advising on its value.


Independent Financial Advisor. A person who is not tied to a building society or insurance company and can therefore give independent advice on mortgages and insurers.

Incomplete Chain

Where there are a sequence of interconnecting parties purchasing properties, so as to form a chain, but where the person at the bottom still has property to sell.For the chain to be complete the person at the bottom has to have no property to sell or have sold it.

Indemnity Guarantee Premium

An up-front, one off fee or premium paid to the lender to protect the lender against the borrower defaulting on the loan. Usually, charged on mortgages over 75% of the house value. Also known as Mortgage Indemnity Guarantee (MIG), Indemnity Guarantee premium and Mortgage Indemnity Premium (MIP)

Indemnity Insurance

Special type of insurance on properties against something that is unlikely to happen, i.e. with possessary title against somebody with a better title or where certain things have happened such as development which are in breach of covenants that are historic and are unlikely to be enforced..

Inheritence Tax

A valuation of property at specific times which is then used in the calculation of inheritance tax.

Interest Charges (mortgage)

The charges that banks make on a loan, calculated as a percentage of the amount borrowed.

Interest-only Mortgage

With an interest-only mortgage, all you pay each month is the interest on the amount you borrowed. You don’t have to pay the full amount back until the mortgage term has ended.

Inventory and or Schedule of Condition

This is a comprehensive list of all the contents of a building showing the condition of each room.This is usually done at both beginning and the end of a tenancy so that it can be judged whether a tenant is returning the property in as good a condition as when they took it out.


Side part of a doorway or window.

Joint Agency

When two estate agencies are marketing your property for sale.

Joint and Several Liability

Where something is owned by two or more people then jointly the persons are liable for the repayment as well as individually for the total amount.

Joint tenants

A form of ownership for two parties whereby if one of them dies, their share of the property will automatically transfer to the remaining party, giving them full ownership (regardless of the terms of the deceased owner’s will) as opposed to a “tenancy in common.”


Any of the small timbers or metal beams ranged parallel from wall to wall in a structure to support a floor or ceiling.

Land Registry

See Registered Title.

Land Registry Fee

Paid to the Land Registry to register ownership of a property.


A person who has a formal interest in property and is in possession of the property and who has rented it out or proposes to.


A legal document by which the freehold (or leasehold) owner of a property lets the premises or a part of it to another party for a specified length of time and at a sum of money, after the expiry of which occupation may revert to the freeholder or superior leaseholder.


Denotes that the ownership of the property is by way of a lease.

Lender’s Arrangement Fees

Charge passed on to the buyer by the lender for arranging a loan.

Lender’s legal fees

The fees incurred by the lender when arranging a mortgage. These costs are passed on to the buyer.


One who contracts to rent property under a specified lease.


An owner who contracts into a lease with a tenant (lessee).

Letting Agent

The Letting Agent acts on behalf of the landlord of the property to let and/or manage that property.

Life Insurance

Life insurance, sometimes referred to as life assurance, provides for a payment of a sum of money upon the death of the insured. In addition, life insurance can be used as a means of investment or saving.

Link Detached

Adjacent detached properties which are linked by a garage(s) and so form a single frontage.


A lintel or header is a horizontal beam used in the construction of buildings. It usually supports the masonry above a window or door opening.

Listed building

One officially listed as being of special architectural or historic interest, which cannot be demolished or altered without (local) government consent.

Loan to Value (LTV)

The size of the mortgage as a percentage of the property’s value.

Local Authority Consent

Planning Permission and Building Regulation proposals which are submitted to the local Authority for scrutiny and approval.

Local Authority Search

Procedure whereby enquiries are made with a local authority or council regarding various prescribed matters such as planning, development, highway issues, etc etc which might affect the property or the immediate area.

Maintenance Charge (or service charge)

The cost of repairing and maintaining external or internal communal parts of a building charged to the tenant or leaseholder.


A residence or property that forms a part of a larger building but has its own independent access as opposed to a block of flats that has a communal access.

Management Company

A management company is responsible for the management of properties on behalf of the person or persons who have an interest in properties.They may collect rent and service charges and they may be responsible for the day to day running or maintenance of a property or its common parts.

Managing Agent

A person or company who is responsible for the management of property which may include collecting rent or maintenance on behalf of others.

Market Valuation

A valuation of property as between a willing buyer and willing seller and is subject only to conditions set out in the valuation.

Matrimonial Valuation

The valuation of a property owned by a husband and wife following their separation or divorce and is used to calculate the interests of each.

Memorandum of Sale

A document showing the parties to a sale of a property, the solicitors, the purchase price and any conditions.

Mid Terraced

Terraced House is a property which forms part of a connected row of houses.Mid Terrace is a property that is not on either end of such a row of houses.

Mining Search

The mining search includes information about any past, current or proposed surface and underground coal mining activity to affect a particular property or site. It also includes further property specific information about the existence of old shallow coal workings, old shafts and other entrances to mines, coal mining related ground fractures, subsidence damage claims, mine gas emissions and emergency call-out surface hazard incidents.It is usually carried out in the purchase of a property in an area which is know to have had mining carried out.


Mixture of sand, cement and water, used to join stones or bricks. Traditionally it was sand, lime and water.


An amount of money advanced by a lender such as a bank or building society on the security of a property and repayable over a long period.

Mortgage Deed

A legal document relating to the mortgage lenders interest in the property and containing the terms of the mortgage.

Mortgage Indemnity Guarantee (MIG)

See Indemnity Guarantee Premium.

Mortgage Indemnity Premium (MIP)

See Indemnity Guarantee Premium.

Mortage Offer

Once a building society, bank or other lender has completed all of their investigations into the persons and property which are party to a mortgage application they will issue a form known as a mortgage offer which sets out the amount of mortgage they are prepared to lend and the terms and conditions attached. Only once the mortgage offer has been provided can exchange of contracts take place.

Mortgage Payment Protection (MPP)

This is an insurance designed to pay your monthly mortgage for a limited period usually a year if you are unable to work through illness, disability or redundancy.

Mortgage Rate

The standard variable interest rate quoted by all mortgage lenders which normally varies with the Bank of England base rate. All discounted rates are based on this mortgage rate.

Mortgage Term

The period of time over which (repayment mortgage) or at the end of which (endowment mortgage) the loan is to be repaid.

Mortgage Valuation

This is a simple valuation carried out by a building society surveyor following a mortgage application and provides the lender with confirmation that the property provides sufficient security for the mortgage being borrowed. It does not usually provide a very detailed survey of the property.


The lender of a mortgage (ie: bank or building society).


One who borrows money, giving as security a mortgage or deed of trust on their property.

Multi Agency

When more than two or more estate agencies are marketing your property for sale.Normally the agent who sells the property is paid and the others get nothing.


The National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) is a professional body run by estate agents for estate agents and which sets out minimum standards of professional competence and ethics.


The National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting (NICEIC) is an independent, charitable body that offers a voluntary regulatory service covering the UK. The NICEIC was created to ensure that consumers are protected from “unsafe and unsound electrical work.”

Negative Equity

When the value of the property falls to less than the outstanding mortgage.

New Build

Where a property is being purchased for the first time from the Builder or Developer.


Stout post supporting a staircase handrail at top and bottom. Also, the central pillar of a winding or spiral staircase.

NHBC Scheme (National House-Building Council)

A type of building guarantee available on most newly built homes which indemnifies the owner against the builder not returning to put right defects that occur in the building within a specific time of its construction.

No Chain

This indicates that the vendor of a property does not plan to buy another property when sold and will offer the property vacant on completion.

Non Mains Drainage

Non mains drainage is where a property is not connected by drain to a public sewer run by, and maintained, by the local authority.It may be connected to its own sewage treatment arrangement such as a septic tank or sewage treatment plant or cesspool or one owned privately by a group of people.


A sum of money that the buyer offers to pay for a property.

Offer of a Loan

A formal document approving the mortgage you have requested and detailing the terms and conditions that will apply.

Office Copy Entries

Copies of the documents showing the title to the property held at the land registry.

Ombudsman for Estate Agents (OEA)

An ombudsmen specifically for estate agents and to whom most estate agents belong and which provides a dispute resolution service.

Open Market Value

The price a property would achieve when there is a willing buyer and willing seller.

Payment Break

An option on flexible mortgages that allows you to stop making mortgage payments for up to 6 months.


Costs that may be incurred if the borrower repays the loan too early or switches between lenders.

Peppercorn Ground Rent

A nominal periodic rent usually paid annually.

Pied a Terre

A property kept for temporary secondary or occasional occupation.

Preliminary Enquiries

The initial enquiries about a property put forward to a seller which the seller must answer before the exchange of contracts.


The monthly amount payable for an insurance policy.

Premium Lease

Lump sum paid up front as rental for a property.


The sum of the loan on which interest is calculated.


This is the administration of deceased’s estate.The grant of probate by a court commits the executor to administer the estate in accordance with the will.

Professional Indemnity Insurance

Provides insurance cover for claims brought against the policy holder due to their professional negligence. Negligence can include an error or omission, breach of duty or civil liability.

Property Misdescription Act

The Property Misdescriptions Act 1991 makes it an offence for an estate agent or property developer to make false or misleading statements in the course of their business, about any of 33 property related matters listed in the Property Misdescriptions (Specified Matters) Order 1992.

Public Liability Insurance

Insurance which covers injury or death to anyone (i.e. the public) on or around your property.


A person who is buying a property.


A structural horizontal beam in a roof upon which rafters rest and which carries the weight of the roof.

Quantity Surveyor

A qualified professional person who assesses the quantity of materials a building would require to build it.

Quarter Day

A day in the financial year, one of four dates on which such payments including rents become due: in England 25 March (Lady Day), 24 June (Midsummer Day), 29 September (Michaelmas) and 25 December (Christmas Day).


Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, a professional body run by Chartered Surveyors for the benefit of Chartered Surveyors and which sets out minimum standards of professional competency and ethics.


Lengths of wood forming part on the structure of the roof on which is fixed the cladding, i.e. the tiles or slates, batons, roofing felt and any wooden boarding.

Rainwater Goods

Rainwater goods, consisting of gutters, outlets and downpipes, work in the fundamental role of drainage of water from a roof.


When a mortgage is fully repaid.

Registered Title

The description given to the title or details of ownership of property when it has been registered at the Land Registry Office, a government body sponsored with recording ownership of all property in the country.Where the title of the property is not registered it is regarded as Unregistered Title.

Reinstatement Value

The cost of rebuilding a property in the event of it’s destruction or other catastrophe and is the amount the property should be insured for.


Refinancing a property by either switching a mortgage from one lender to another or by taking out a second mortgage to draw down any equity gained by a rise in value.

Repayment Mortgage

A mortgage repaid by way of monthly repayments of capital combined with interest over a set period of time.


When the mortgage lender takes possession of your property due to non-payment of the mortgage.


Holding back part of a mortgage loan until repairs or specified works to the property are satisfactorily completed.

Right of Way

A right of access along a prescribed route across a property.The right should set out whether it is for the public or attached to a specific property or person and what restrictions there are to it, i.e. by person, vehicle or horse drawn carriage.

Rising Damp

Damp that soaks up a wall from ground upwards, i.e. rising.This is usually caused by capillary action.It may leave a water mark at a height of between two and three foot on interior decorations.

Roof report

This is a report into the condition and structural integrity of a roof and its cladding such as tiles, slate or felt.

Roof Truss

A structural section of massive timbers overall in the form of a triangle which carries the load of the purlins and weight of the roof onto the supporting walls.


A request or enquiry for information concerning the property held by a local authority or by the land registry.

Secondary Glazing

In effect a second “window” placed inside the original window frame as opposed to double glazing where two sheets of glass are placed within one window frame.


Someone who promotes or exchanges goods or services for money.


A property which is joined to one other house.

Septic Tank

Underground receptacle for wastewater from a home. The bacteria in the sewage decompose the organic wastes, and the sludge settles to the bottom of the tank. The effluent flows out of the tank into the ground through drains.

Service charge

See Maintenance Charge.


See subsidence.

Shared Ownership

Where two or more persons have a similar interest in property.It includes the government sponsored scheme operated by Housing Associations where a person purchases half interest in a property paying a mortgage on this with the housing association owning the remainder of the interest and the first person may or may not pay a rent or interest on this part.

Short Hold Tenancy

See Assured Shorthold Tenancy.

Shrinkage Cracks

Cracks occurring during the drying out process after a building is newly built and which usually appear within its first year.They are generally non structural.

SMS Text Messaging

Short message service is a communications protocol allowing the interchange of short text messages between mobile telephone devices. More recently it has been possible to also use computers to send or receive messages from mobile telephones.


Either a pit filled with aggregate or a system of porous drains laid over land which allow water that is discharged into it to soak into the surrounding ground.


The under-surface of eaves and fascia.

Sole Agency/Sole Selling Rights

Where an estate agent has exclusive rights to sell a property.Details are set out in the Estate Agency Act and the estate agent must serve notice in accordance with the act if it is that type of agency.

Sole Agent

When a seller chooses only one estate agent to sell their home.


Legal expert handling all documentation for the sale or purchase of a property.

Stamp Duty Exempt

Some types of purchase or transfer of land are exempt from Stamp Duty tax. The Government has designated certain areas and price ranges as exempt from Stamp Duty.

Structural Engineer

An expert in the behavior and design of structures. Structural engineering deals with structural analysis and design of concrete and steel structures, structural dynamics and mechanics, concrete technology, computational mechanics, structural safety and other related work.

Structural Survey

A detailed survey of a building including its structure carried out by a qualified building surveyor or structural engineer.

Studio Flat

A flat consisting of one main room or open-plan living area incorporating cooking and sleeping facilities and a separate bathroom/shower room.

Subject to Contract

Words to indicate that an agreement is not yet legally binding.


Ground movement which can result in cracking in structural walls.It can be caused by clay shrinkage, defective drains, trees and their removal and mining.

Sulphate Report

This is a report into the evidence of sulphates in concrete as sulphate reacts with concrete causing it to expand resulting in structural damage to walls and floors. It usually involves breaking one or more holes through the concrete, an analysis of samples taken is done by laboratories.

Superior Landlord

People, or persons, to whom the ownership or interest in the Leasehold premises might revert in the fullness of time, following the expiry of the term of any head, or superior, lease.


A survey of a building examines and reports on its overall condition.


Professionally-qualified expert who carries out a detailed inspection of a property.


A temporary possession of a property by a person (the tenant) who for a period of time and pays a rent.

Tenancy Agreement

A legal agreement designed to protect the rights of the tenant and landlord and setting out all the terms and conditions of the rental arrangements.

Tenancy Deposit

A sum of money paid by a tenant at the commencement of tenancy and which is held by the landlord or their agent against the tenant complying with the terms of the tenancy, i.e. paying the rent and leaving the property in a comparable condition at the end of the tenancy.

Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS)

An independnat dispute-resolution service which is available to participating landlords, their agents, and tenants who are unable to resolve a dispute relating to the tenancy deposit at the end of the tenancy. From April 2007 all agents have had to join and all tenancy agreements from that date must be subject to it.


A person who has temporary possession of a property by agreement and pays rent or consideration.

Tenants in Common

A form of ownership by two or more people in which if one of them dies, their share of the property forms part of their estate and does not automatically pass to the other(s).


Conditions on which a property is held (ie: length of lease).

Terraced house

A property which forms part of a connected row of houses.

Timber and Damp Proof Reports

A detailed report into all of the timbers in a building including floor and roof timbers and also into the damp proof course. It will set out whether there is any wood rot or wood worm in the timbers and whether the building has any rising damp due to defects in the damp proof course.

Timber and Damp Report

A report provided by a specialist company following a survey of a building which will provide details of any damp in a building or wood rot or wood worm.

Title Deeds

Documents showing the legal ownership of a property.

Tracker Rate

The interest rate which is set at a percentage above the Bank of England Base Rate for a period of time (i.e. the rate ‘tracks’ the base rate.)

Transfer Deeds

The land registry document that transfers legal ownership from seller to buyer.

Tree Report

A report into the trees usually surrounding the building as to their stability and likelihood of either the tree or branches falling giving damage to a building or roots causing damage to a building.

Under Lease or Sub Lease

Where a person holding a headlease grants a lease or rental agreement of their interest to another person at a rent and for a period of time.

Under Offer

The status of a property for sale, when a seller has accepted an offer from a purchaser but prior to exchange of contracts.


Method of strengthening weak foundations whereby a new, stronger foundation is placed beneath the original.

Unproceedable Offer

An offer from a party who is not presently in a financial situation to proceed with the purchase either because they have not been able to agree a mortgage in principle or have not sold a property.

Unregistered Title

The right of ownership (or title) of a property that has not been registered at the Land Registry (see registered title).

Utility Charges

This includes charges, rates or costs relating to telephone, gas, electricity, oil, water rates and Council Tax.

Vacant Possession

Relates to the ownership of property and implies that on completion or possession the property will be empty, i.e. will not be subject to any tenancy.


The person who is selling a property also known as the seller.

Water Charges

This includes charges, rates or costs relating to water, sewerage and environmental services.

Water Search

An environmental search relating to the water systems of a property.

Wet Rot

Decay of timber due to damp conditions. The damp can be eradicated once the damp conditions are removed.


Income from a property calculated as a percentage of it’s value.

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