A-Z of Useful Terms
Where an estate agent acts beyond their normal authority in an emergency. The agent must act reasonably to be deemed to have such authority
Includes a spouse (husband or wife, former spouse or common law spouse) or relative (brother,sister,uncle,aunt, nephew, niece) lineal ancestor (parents and grandparents, including step-parents etc) or Lineal descendants (children and grandchildren, including illegitimate children etc) or business associate, e.g. director, controller or partner of a business
A method of selling property, usually held in public at a designated time and place, where buyers make competitive bids for the property
Abstract Of Title
A document prepared by the Vendor’s solicitor which relates to unregistered land proving the Vendor owns the land, and that any previous mortgages have been paid settled.
Additional Security Fee
An upfront one-off fee paid to the lender, in order to protect them against the borrower defaulting on the loan. Also known as a Mortgage Indemnity Guarantee.
The person appointed by the courts to manage the affairs of a deceased person who died without specifically naming someone in their will to carry out that work.
A restrictive covenant preventing certain work to a property which may have been imposed hundreds of years ago. It can be possible to take out insurance against such a covenant being enforced.
Annual Percentage Rate (APR)
The total cost of a loan, which includes the costs, interest charges, and arrangement fees.
A certificate provided by an architect, which confirms their overseeing of the construction of a building. Building societies are unlikely to lend on a new-build house in the absence of either an architect’s certificate or an NHBC Guarantee.
A shaped moulding which frames door and window openings.
The Association of Residential Letting Agents.
The transfer of ownership of an insurance policy or lease.
The sale of a property to the highest bidder, provided the amount exceeds any reserve. Buyers are required to sign a contract and pay a deposit immediately.
Three main types are used for house building, common bricks, facing bricks and engineering bricks
A long section of timber used to face the edge of a pitched roof at the point where it meets the gable end.
Basic Variable Mortgage Rate
The mortgage lender’s standard rate of interest which may be increased or decreased, depending on prevailing economic conditions.
A length of timber to which roof tiles are fixed.
A person for whose benefit property is being held by trustees, executors or administrators.
A tar like substance which when heated becomes liquid, and then hardens after cooling. Generally used for joining both layers of a flat felt roof.
A temporary loan, which allows a buyer to complete on the purchase of a property before selling their previous property.
Prior to the owner of a property carrying out extension work, alterations or structural changes, building regulations need to be obtained from the local authority giving their approval for the work to commence.
Buy To Let Mortgage
A type of mortgage specifically for investors buying a property with the intention of then letting it out.
The law which covers non-criminal activities between organisations and individuals
A separate bank account in which money not belonging to the estate agent (e.g. deposits paid by proposed buyers) is deposited, separately from the normal firms account. This is a requirement of the estate agency’s act 1979
Code of Measuring Practice
This code, published by the RICS sets out the accepted way to measure residential and non residential property
Common law refers to law developed by judges through decisions of courts and similar tribunals (called case law), rather than through legislative statutes or executive action, and to corresponding legal systems that rely on precedential case law
Commonhold is a system of property ownership in England and Wales. It was introduced in 2004 by the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002 as an alternative to leasehold, and is the first new type of legal estate to be introduced in English law since 1925
The legal term for payment (one of the essential parts of a legally binding contract). The consideration does not always have to be money; it can be property or goods, for example. Also the consideration does not have to reflect fair value
The deposit paid by the buyer, usually at exchange of the contracts. This is normally 10% of the purchase price and is held by the sellers solicitor (see also Pre-contract deposit)
Where brickwork is stepped out and width of a wall is increased, to give further support to a building
Course (of bricks)
A single horizontal line of bricks
Law covering any activities thought to be detrimental to the state or society
The estate agents employer or owner (for an employee), any employee (for an employer or owner) or any asso
Capital Gains Tax
A tax upon any profit realised on the disposal of an asset. Owner occupied properties are generally exempt from Capital Gains Tax.
Is provided by lenders with an upper limit on the interest rate, normally agreed for a fixed period of time.
County Court Judgement, any person who has defaulted on payments or has bad debts could have a CCJ taken out against them by the courts, which could prevent that person from obtaining a mortgage offer.
A legal term covering a registered claim against a property as security for money owing.
Chattels is one of those quaint old English words much loved by the legal profession, which in modern-day language means any of your moveable property or possessions, other than freehold land and buildings.
Chemical Damp Proof Course
A form of damp proof course using a chemical compound injected into the brickwork.
The date of payment of the balance of the purchase money, when the buyer is entitled to take possession of the property.
The lack of adequate ventilation in a room causes an accumulation of moist air, which when it meets a cold wall or window deposits moisture in the form of condensation. Can easily be cured by an increase in ventilation and improving insulation.
Conditions Of Sale
The details that determine the rights and duties of the buyer and seller.
A legally binding written document of agreement between two parties approved by both sides' solicitors, and setting out the agreed terms by which both sides are committed to proceed to completion.
This occurs when two parties have made an offer on the same house, usually at the same price. The vendor will sell to whichever party exchanges contracts first.
Is either taken to mean the act of transferring ownership of a property, or alternatively the legal document which effects the transfer.
Generally a “flat” stone used to cap the top of parapet walls or garden walls.
A binding promise in a deed to do or not to do something i.e., maintenance of a fence, or restrictions to trading from a premises.
A remedy under common law. The party awarded damages will be put in the same position as if the contract had been performed. Damages claimed have to be reasonable
Damp proof course (DPC)
A moisture barrier inserted into a wall to stop moisture from the soil below ground level being transmitted up through the brickwork. Many properties were built without DPCs. DPCs were originally formed in slate or bitumen. Most modern properties have a PVC damp proof course (see also damp proof membrane)
The carrying out of building, engineering, mining or other operations is, on, over or under land, or the making of any material change of use in any buildings or other land, as defined in Section 55 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990
The treatment of one group of people less favourably than another group
An extra layer of glazing used in windows and glazed doors to help prevent heat loss, or for sound insulation
Double pitched roof
A roof that slopes on two sides. Types of double pitched roofs include close couple roofs, purlin and rafter roofs and trussed rafter roofs
A form of wood rot which thrives on a high humidity and leaves the timber dry and brittle with cracks both along and across the grain
Display Screen Equipment
A possible defence against conviction under the Property Misdescriptions Act 1991. To avoid prosecution, an estate agent must show that they look all reasonable steps and exercised all due diligence to ensure an offence did not occur, e.g. good checking procedures, recording procedures and staff training (see also Reliance on information provided)
Damp Proof Membrane
A sheet of polythene or other impervious material incorporated in a solid floor to prevent rising damp.
Deed Of Variation
See "Defective Lease" below.
A badly drafted lease. If this is serious, the vendor may have to obtain a “deed of variation” getting the freeholder’s permission to change the original terms of the lease.
This is a sum of money required from the buyer when he enters into an enforceable agreement. This is usually on the signing of the contract, and can be between 5 and 10 per cent of the purchase price.
These refer to disrepair or damage done to a rented property.
These are fees paid by the buyer’s solicitor on the buyer’s behalf, such as stamp duty, land registry fees, and search fees.
A window which projects outwards from a pitched roof.
This is a preliminary unconfirmed version of the contract, prepared by the vendor’s solicitor.
This is a method of finishing to walls whereby they are lined with plasterboard rather than layers of wet plaster based coats. After which, a thin finishing coat of plaster is then applied. This method of finishing an interior wall ensures that the plaster dries significantly quicker.
The side or face of a building. Elevations can be front, side or rear
A legal document, written in its final form
A matter derived from equity which owes its origins to common law
A person or persons appointed in a will to carry out the wishes of a deceased person which may involve the sale of property
Where a seller gives an estate agent the authority to act through a contract between them. The contract must be in writing, to comply with the Estate Agents Act 1979
A term given to a right which someone may enjoy over another property. These can be rights of way, drainage rights, or more likely access to a neighbour’s land in order to carry out repairs to their own property.
The underneath section of a roof overhang.
A liability imposed on the owner of a property, which is then binding on subsequent owners.
Energy Performance Certificate An energy assessor produces these certificates. They have become mandatory for anyone who wishes to rent or sell their home in the United Kingdom. It will show a rating of environmental impact and will also indicate which particular areas of a property could be improved to save energy.
Deeds are usually drawn up in draft form for approval by each party’s solicitors. When the deeds are approved, sometimes after amendments, the final drafts are then engrossed for all parties to sign.
The difference between the value of a property and the amount of mortgage owed.
Is a roof that slopes to one side with a pitch of approximately 10degree. The minimum pitch for a flat roof is 2degree
A method of property sale where all interested parties are invited to submit sealed bids by a given date and time. There is strict adherence to the tender process with no discussion between the sellers and bidders at to matters of negotiation or price
The structure below a damp proof course level which supports the building. The most common types are strip foundations, raft foundations and ground beams supported on piles
Fixtures And Fittings
All non-structural items included in the purchase of a property.
Thin sheets of lead or similar material used to form a waterproof join at the point where two structures of differing angles meet, normally on a roof. In Victorian times these were often made with cement, and generally need to be replaced.
This can occur when first floor accommodation forming part of one freehold is located over ground floor accommodation forming part of another freehold. The first floor freeholder does not own the land beneath the property, and is then said to own a “flying freehold”.
Forced Sale Value
A price one would expect to obtain for a property on the open market without delay, assuming that a normal or reasonable amount of time is not available in which to market that property.
A property built between approximately 1714 and 1830
The price the auctioneer is hoping to achieve at the auction
A horizontal channel, usually fixed to the eaves, which collects rain water from a roof to discharge via downspouts and down pipes into drains or the soil
This is the side wall of a house when it extends upwards into the inverted “V” of a pitched roof.
When a person lets land to another and he then subsequently builds on the land, the rent passing is in respect of the land only and is therefore known as ground rent.
A mortgage lender may require a borrower to appoint a guarantor. This is someone who promises to pay the borrower’s debt if the borrower defaults, could for example be a parent taking personal responsibility should their child default on payments.
The Health and Safety at work etc Act 1974
A roof that slopes on all four sides, meeting at a central ridge
Where the moisture content of the soil increases under a building. Also known as ‘heave’
A small water storage tank normally placed in a roof, which is required to replace water lost in a hot water system due to expansion.
Home Buyers Survey And Valuation Report
This is a survey report which is not as detailed as a full structural survey and is carried out by a chartered surveyor.
Where one group of people cannot comply with a certain condition which is applied to all groups, or were only very few of that group can comply
A remedy under equity, where the court orders a party not to carry out a certain act
A material used to reduce the rate of heat loss from a building, e.g. fibreglass, polystyrene, sheets, mica beads, which can be installed in roof spaces, flat roofs, cavity walls and as inner linings to solid walls
Clay or concrete roof tiles manufactured to incorporate grooves along the sides of the tiles so that they interlock with the adjoining tiles
Invitation to treat
An invitation by a seller to buyers to negotiate on the price of a property
Independent Financial Advisor.
Building societies operate in accordance with the Building Societies Act. This provides that the maximum advance they can make on a property without additional security is 75% of the purchase price or surveyor’s valuation for pre 1919 properties, and 80% for post 1919 properties. When a society lends in excess of this percentage, the excess is guaranteed by an indemnity policy. A single premium is payable by the purchaser when the mortgage is taken out.
Interest Only Mortgage
An interest only mortgage stays the same throughout the mortgage term. When choosing an interest only mortgage, the purchaser is responsible for ensuring that they have sufficient funds available to repay the mortgage at the end of the term.
A list describing the condition of furnishings and the contents of a leased property at the start and end of a tenancy, in order that any dilapidations during the tenancy can then be identified.
Requires competing buyers to submit their best bids by a specific time and date. It is not a legally binding contract.
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
The sides of a doorway or window opening
Joint sale agency
Where two agents work jointly on behalf of a seller on a collaborative basis, no other agent being instructed during the joint sole agency period
Horizontal lengths of timber used in the main structure of floors for ceilings
A method of deciding about new cases by referring them back to decisions in old cases
Where a tenant is granted exclusive possession of land by the freeholder for a fixed period. One of the two legal estates that can be held in land (see also Freehold)
Term of years absolute
A matter based in law
Laws contained in Acts of Parliament. Also known as statute law
A horizontal beam (of timber, concrete or steel) above a door or window opening, used to support the brickwork above
Land Registry Fee
Payable to the Land Registry to register ownership of a property.
A legal document by which the freehold or leasehold owner of a property lets the premises to another party for a specific length of time, after which point it may revert to the freeholder or superior leaseholder.
A lessee is a person who holds a lease (i.e. the tenant).
A person who grants the lease (i.e. the landlord).
A building which is listed as being of special historical or architectural interest, which cannot then be demolished or altered without local government consent.
Local Authority Search
A search made at the local council office by a buyer’s solicitor to check whether or not the property is affected by such matters as any outstanding enforcement or future development issues which might affect the property, or the immediate surrounding area.
Advice given to potential seller on the saleability, recommended asking price and the anticipated selling price of their property. A market appraisal will reflect the state of the market, the property (its condition and accommodation) and the seller’s needs (financial and timescale)
A statement from which a reasonable person would be likely to make a false inference, even though the statement itself is not false, according to the Property Misdescriptions Act 1991
Mortgage in possession
A person who has taken possession of a property under the mortgage deed, but does not have legal title to the property, i.e. they are in a similar position to executors and trustees
Maintenance Charge (or Service Charge)
The cost of repairing and maintaining external and / or internal communal parts of a building, which are then charged to the tenant or leaseholder.
Technically a maisonette is an apartment which is on two levels, with its own separate access. Although generally properties on two levels, with or without separate access, are referred to as maisonettes.
The lender of a mortgage i.e. a bank or building society.
The recipient of the mortgage.
Mortgage Indemnity Guarantee
An insurance policy that a mortgage lender may require the purchaser to pay if their loan is above a specified amount of the purchase price.
The upright dividing section of a window.
See joint agency.
The National Association of Estate Agents.
Occurs when the value of a property falls to less than the outstanding mortgage, so that despite having sold the property the owner will have a continuing debt.
A vertical post into which the side sections of a staircase are fixed.
NHBC (National Housebuilding Council)
A non-profit making, independent body approved by the Department of the Environment, which lays down standards for housebuilders who are registered with them. The council issues 10 year certificates, which allow for the remedying of any serious defects developing during that time, on new-build properties. It is unlikely that a mortgage lender will grant a mortgage on a new property which does not have either an NHBC guarantee or an architect’s certificate.
If the property has a registered title, the vendor’s solicitor will need to apply for office copy entries from the Land Registry before a draft contract can be prepared.
Open Market Value
The price a property should achieve when there is a willing buyer and a willing seller.
Outline Planning Permission
This is planning consent which is subject to certain reserved matters, such as design, appearance and siting of proposed buildings.
Ombudsmen for Estate Agent (OEA) scheme
An independent route by which customers of residential estate agents can take complaints for free, fair and impartial assessment. The scheme was launched in 1998 and Manns and Manns are member of this.
Order of court
An order from a court which requires the sale of a property, e.g. in a divorce case
A nominal rent where the landlord does not receive an annual payment in cash. When the owner of land or property wishes to grant a lease, he must charge a rent as an acknowledgement of the existence of the lease. Where the owner does not want to charge any rent but simply wishes to establish the lease exists, he can ask for a peppercorn each year as a token payment. In practise, this is not generally handed over!
The wall which projects above the level of the roof.
A wall which separates the properties of two adjoining owners, each of whom have certain rights over the wall.
Pied A Terre
A property kept for temporary, secondary, or occasional occupation.
Power Of Attorney
A document granting power to some person to act in the name of another. Normally left with a solicitor to enable a purchase to proceed in the absence of either the vendor or purchaser.
Preliminary Or Pre-contract Enquiries
These are enquiries made by the purchaser’s solicitors, requesting information on a property prior to exchange. It is at this stage that fixtures and fittings to be left or taken are agreed.
A lump sum paid up front as rental payment for a property. Most normally used by City firms for corporate lets.
A document which is issued by a court to an executor, to show that the will of a deceased has been proved and that the executor can distribute the assets.
Property Misdescriptions Act 1991
Brought in to ensure agents' descriptions of properties, either written or oral, and room measurements were accurate, and to ensure that agents carry out due diligence at all times.
Public Liability Insurance
Insurance which covers injury to, or death of anyone on or around a property.
A horizontal beam used in roof construction and placed at right angles to the rafters or trusses.
Purpose Built Flats
These are properties which have specifically been designed and built as individual flats, as opposed to flats which are created by conversion of an existing building, such as a large Victorian house.
Part exchange deals
These are usually done by new home developers where they buy the existing property of someone who wants to buy one of their new properties
Any form of dampness (except rising damp) transmitted from the exterior to the interior of a property
Small developments which may not require planning permission, e.g. adding a porch
Another term for the slope of a roof
A promise or obligation that is an equitable interest which commits the owner of land to do something, e.g. fence boundaries (see also Restrictive covenant)
An estate agent has a personal interest when they have a beneficial interest in property/land or in the proceeds of sale any interest in the property/land or the estate agent knows, or might reasonably be expected to know, that any connected person has such an interest
A property built between approximately 1945 and 1970
A deposit, usually a nominal amount, paid to an estate agent or builder once agreement on the price has been reached and the legal process is about to start. It is offered ‘subject to contract’ and is returnable if the purchase does not proceed (see also Contract deposit)
A prefabricated housing unit made of timber, concrete and steel. Prefabs were developed as a short-term programme after the Second World war, although some examples still exist today
Private treaty sale
This is where an estate agent negotiates between the seller (from whom instructions are received) and the buyer until the price and other terms agreed are acceptable to both the seller and the buyer
A document describing the details of a property, which is circulated to applicants (also known as sales particulars)
A branch of the law that deals mainly with the duties and powers of the state itself, i.e. the relationship of government and local authorities with each other, and with us as individuals, e.g. constitutional law
The buyer of a property or land
An obligation restricting the use of land which is binding on subsequent owners, for example not allowed to keep animals on the premises, or a house builder may put a covenant on a property forbidding extension without his approval.
The holding back of part of the mortgage until repairs or specified works to the property are satisfactorily completed.
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.
The timbers spanning the top and bottom of a roof to carry the weight of the roof tiles
A type of foundation using a continuous reinforced concrete ‘raft’ which extends beneath the whole of the building. Raft foundations are used where the subsoil is not suitable for ordinary strip foundations
Ready, willing and able purchaser
A buyer who is able to exchange unconditional contracts for the purchase of a property
A title to land or property that is recorded at one of the 24 District Land Registries which cover England and Wales. Most title to land and property in England and Wales is already registered (see also unregistered title)
Reliance on information provided
A possible defence against conviction under the Property Misdescriptions act 1991. To avoid prosecution, an estate agent must show that is was reasonable in all the circumstances to rely on the information provided to them and show what steps were taken to verify the information (see also Due diligence)
An external wall finish, usually cement, applied to the brickwork or blockwork of a building
At auction, the price below which the auctioneer is instructed by the seller not to sell the property (not usually revealed to the bidders)
The edge where two sloping sides of a roof meet at the top
The passage of dampness to the interior of a building through the brick/stonework of the walls of the structure
A document which describes the details of a property, which is circulated to applicants (also known as property details/particulars)
A window where the opening section (the sash) is opened and closed by sliding up and down, by means of a rope and pulley system at the sides
The final finish given to a solid floor in order to provide a smooth, level surface on which to lay carpet or tiles
The download movement of soil due to the loading of the building
The horizontal base of a window or door frame
Single slope roof
A roof which slopes to one side, often used for extensions
The most common material used for roof covering until the introduction of concrete and clay tiles
Where a seller gives instructions, usually for a specified period, to one agent only to act in the disposal of land or property
Sole selling rights
Where an estate agent has the exclusive right to sell a property, often for a limited period. The agent will be paid no matter who introduces the buyer, whether this is by another agent, the seller themselves or another person
A remedy under equity, where a person who has breached a contract is made to fulfil the contract terms if possible
The 33 matters covering aspects of property referred to in the Property Misdescriptions (Specified Matters) Order 1992, about which estate agents cannot make false or misleading statements
The laws contained in Acts of Parliament. Also known as legislation
A strip of concrete under a wall to provide support and carry the load of a building to ground level
A section of timber used for additional strengthening or support to a horizontal beam within a roof
Where the instructed estate agent, not the seller, appoints a sub-agent (contracted to the instructed agent) to gain a greater coverage for the seller. By law, sub agents can only be appointed with the knowledge and specific authority of the seller. The practice can occur in both sole agency (sole selling agency) and multiple agency areas and can be used as an alternative to joint agencies
A downward movement of a building caused by a weakening or change in soil conditions
A system, used to devise marketing plans, which identifies strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats
The rights of a landowner over the land of another i.e. rights of light etc.
The underneath section of a roof overhang, archway etc.
The pipe which discharges water from a WC to a sewer. This pipe will extend upwards beyond the roof level in order to vent gases from the sewer.
A government levy payable by the purchaser of a property based on the purchase price. Currently (November 2007), there is no stamp duty payable up to £125,000 between £125,001 and £250,000 – 1%, between £250,001 and £500,000 – 3%, and over £500,001 – 4%.
Subject To Contract
When an offer is made to purchase a property subject to contract, it means that all dealings are subject to the actual exchange of the contract itself. Nothing is binding on either seller or buyer until the contracts are exchanged.
A property built with a wooden frame, rather than traditional bricks or stone. A growing number of new properties are being built to timber frame designs, as this method has a numerous advantages, e.g. the manufacturing process can be done offside
The Ombudsmen For Estate Agents
This is an independent professional body that investigates complaints on behalf of customers, and is answerable to the Trading Standards Department. If using an estate agent to sell your property, it is always worth ensuring that they are members of the Ombudsmen Scheme so you do have some form of redress, should things not go according to plan.
This is an arrangement whereby prospective purchasers are invited to submit sealed bids by a previously stated date and time. The moment the offer is accepted by the seller, the arrangement becomes a legally binding contract.
A collective term which relates to the nature of the owners title to a property i.e. is it freehold or leasehold.
Documents showing the legal ownership of a property, which are normally held by a vendor’s mortgage lender.
A legal wrong. The law of tort is the protection of certain interests of one person against certain types of wrongful conduct by another person#
The horizontal timbers of a window or door frame
An offence which will lead to a warning or prohibition order, under the Estate agents Act 1979
A triangular framework of timbers forming the structural support in a pitched roof
A person to whom legal title to property in entrusted to hold or use for another person’s benefit
Transfer Of Deeds
A Land Registry document that transfers the ownership of a property on completion in registered land transactions.
A title to land or property which is not registered at one of the 24 District Land Registries which cover England and Wales (see also Registered title)
Status of a property indicating that an offer has been made and accepted for a property, subject to contract.
When existing foundations to a building are inadequate, additional strengthening will be added below the existing foundations.
The lower point at which two different roof angles meet
Value added tax (VAT)
A government tax charged on the supply of goods and services
The join between the roof pitch and the gable end
Where an employer is liable for the torts committed by an employee in the course of their employment
Variable Base Rate
A basic rate of interest charged on a mortgage. This may change in relation to market conditions – in other words, monthly payments could either go up or down.
Referring to the seller or person who sells property or land.
A property built between approximately 1837 and 1901
Income from a property calculated as a percentage of it's value.
Rights of way granted to enable obligations and duties to be fulfilled by the electricity board, telephone company etc to allow them to maintain pipelines and cables.
This occurs when timber is exposed to wood rotting fungi