Essential terms on lettings in the UK you should know - Part 1

Essential terms on lettings in the UK you should know - Part 1

August, 2022

When it comes to lettings in the UK, there are many essential terms one needs to keep track of. It can get a bit perplexing. We have compiled the following guide to help you navigate your way through it all.

Agency Agreement

Landlords should ensure that the services provided fall under an agreement when dealing with an estate agent. The services range in scope, from finding a tenant, referencing, tenancy agreement drafts, inventory arrangements, check-ins, rent collection and property management. The tenancy agreement needs to clarify what period it covers and how the parties involved can terminate it if necessary. It should also outline if there is a notice required from any of the parties and what sort of liability they hold after it ends. Agents need to include information such as service fees and whether they are a member of a redress scheme. An agency agreement is a legally binding contract that incurs financial commitments. That is why parties must understand the terms and the obligations they enter.

Break Clause

The contract break clause is also known as the 'option to determine and 'beak option'. It allows landlords and tenants to terminate their lease before the contractual expiry date, as long as they meet certain criteria.

Check-in and Check-out

A check-out inspection is something that landlords and estate agents arrange to compare the condition of the property against the check-in report and inventory conducted at the start of the tenancy. It should reflect the true condition of a property so that it can then be used as a point of reference towards the end of the tenancy. To prevent the chance of future disputes, individuals are highly encouraged to sign, amend, verify and make a copy of the check-in report.

Duty of Care

When a client enlists the services of an estate agent, the agent should ensure they are working for the client's best interests, usually a landlord. If the agent has some personal or business interest in the property, they should inform the tenant and landlord as early as possible. The agent should treat the involved parties fairly and with professional courtesy.


The agent should ensure the tenant receives a detailed inventory/check-in at the start of their tenancy. The goal of it is to record the condition of the property and its contents. The tenant may then wish to add items to the final version before it is agreed upon. Tenants should keep a copy of the document and must use registered post when they return the original to the estate agent.

Maintenance and repairs

Only the landlord is a party to the agreement that sets out the maintenance and repairs responsibilities of the landlord and tenants. If the estate agent is providing property management services, they should only receive a notification from the tenant and then forward that to the landlord. The landlord is responsible for taking the necessary actions to instruct an agent or another party to address an issue. Landlords must comply with the legal obligations related to gas safety and electrical installations. The property needs to be safe to let in that regard.


If the landlord instructs them, the agent will obtain some references for prospective tenants. They use a referencing provider for the task, though not always. The provider will come up with a report on the tenant's suitability. This will then be used to decide on whether a tenant is an appropriate pick for the property.

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