Glossary of Tenancy Terms

Private renting has its fair share of jargon. See our list of terms that are commonly used and what they all mean!

Glossary of Tenancy Terms 

When we talk about private renting, we know it has it's fair share of jargon. Below is a list of terms that are commonly used when talking about renting (and throughout our 'New Digs' campaign!) along with a description that will help you understand what they all mean.

Tenant

A person who rents out a property. 

Landlord 

A person who owns a property and allows a tenant to live there in exchange for monthly rent. 

Letting Agent 

An agent who assists the landlord and tenant with the let. A person who manages properties for private landlords, responsibilities will usually range from finding tenants and collecting rent, to full responsibility and management. 

Managing Agent 

A letting agent who manages the day to day running of the property on behalf of the landlord. The landlord remains legally responsible for the property and repairs, but the agent works on the landlord’s behalf. 

Private Rented Tenancy agreement (PRT)

An agreement with you and the landlord for staying in the property. The PRT came into use in December 2017 to replace the old Short Assured Tenancy (SAT), there is no initial lease period (unlike SATs where it used to be 6 months). The landlord can no longer bring the tenancy to an end for no reason, this is referred to as the removal of the “no-fault” ground for ending a tenancy. It must be accompanied by an information document published by the Scottish Government which explains what all the clauses mean. Your landlord or letting agent is legally required to give you this document by law.

Short-Assured Tenancy agreement (SAT)

A short assured tenancy is an agreement that you and the landlord might have made if your tenancy started before 1 December 2017. It is granted for a fixed period of not less than six months. If you already had a Short-Assured Tenancy before 1 December 2017 this can continue and be renewed until you or the landlord bring it to an end. 

Reference 

A process where the tenant is credit checked, as well as checks on their income and residence. This will check to see if you've had problems paying bills in the past. Your landlord cannot charge you for this as that would be an ‘illegal premium’ and against the law. Landlords may also ask you to get references from your employer, or from a previous landlord.

Guarantor 

Someone you choose to guarantee the payments of rent and any other payments you might be responsible for, such as bills, if you should fall into arrears or fail to pay what you owe. If you are taking on a joint tenancy, the guarantor may also have to take on responsibility for the other joint tenants’ rent if they don’t pay it.

Fixed-Term Tenancy 

rent agreement with a specified start and end date. 

Notice 

A letter given by either a landlord or tenant that they want to bring the tenancy to an end. If your landlord wants to end the tenancy, they must use a formal notice called either a Notice to Leave or a Notice to Quit (depending on what type of tenancy you have).

Rent-Increase Notice

If you have a private residential tenancy, your landlord can only legally increase your rent by giving you this formal Notice three months before they want to rent to increase.

Arrears 

A term used for any late or unpaid rent. 

The First-tier Tribunal 

  • Deals with rent or repair issues in private rented housing. Some of the issues it can deal with are:
  • Rent increases for ‘fair’ or ‘market’ rates
  • Tenancy disputes,
  • Cases when your landlord hasn’t lodged your deposit with a tenancy deposit scheme
  • Cases where your landlord hasn’t given you a tenancy agreement, or the other information the law says they must give you
  • Repairing standard issues within houses in multiple occupation;
  • Cases where a landlord wants to evict their tenant
  • Cases where a landlord has wrongfully evicted their tenant
  • You can also complain to it if you have exhausted a letting agent’s complaints process and remain dissatisfied.

Furnishings 

All contents of the property are included as part of the rent. 

Part-furnished 

A property let with some furnishings, most properties will provide items like fridges, ovens and washing machines. 

House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) 

A term for a property which has three or more tenants who are not a family unit. HMO properties must have a licence from the council for a landlord to let them out legally.

ARLA Propertymark

The Association of Residential Letting Agent, a professional body for letting agents. This helps potential tenants seek more reliable letting agents. 

Ombudsman 

Independent professional bodies who investigate complaints on behalf of customers against estate agents, solicitors and insurance companies. 

Scottish Public Services Ombudsman

A body that you can complain to about your local council if you have exhausted their complaints process and remain dissatisfied.

Gas Safety Check 

Landlords are legally required to arrange of a gas safety check to take place annually on rented properties. This must be carried out by a gas safe registered engineer. 

Electrical Safety Inspection

The Landlord must ensure that an electrical safety inspection is carried out at least every five years consisting of an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) and Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) on electrical appliances provided by the Landlord. The tenant should be given a copy of the EICR and any PAT.

Deposit 

A sum of money taken from the tenant at the beginning of the tenancy which can be used for non-payment of the rent and bills, and any damage to the property. The deposit cannot be more than two months’ rent.

Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) 

A landlord is legally required to register the deposit in a Tenancy Deposit Scheme which protects the money for the tenant and will assist with any disputes at the end of the tenancy. 

Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) 

All properties let for private residential purposes must have an EPC. It is used to report the energy performance of a property. 

Find out more about Private Renting by heading to the New Digs Campaign page.