Property Glossary of Terms

There are many thousands of words and phrases associated with the property industry, some of which are very common and some of which are rarely used. This guide is intended to give you an overview of the most common words and phrases we use.

As always, if you need a more detailed explanation or clarification, please contact us and we’ll give you all the information you need.

Arbitration – A method by which disputes between landlord and tenant – usually pertaining to rent reviews and lease renewals – can be resolved without having to go to court. An arbitrator will determine a dispute only using the evidence submitted by the parties.

Break Clause – An opportunity granted to the tenant to terminate the lease at a pre-agreed date before its quoted expiry date.

Business Rates – These are dues paid by businesses to the local council as a contribution to the cost of local services and amenities.

Capital Value – The monetary value of an asset.

Commercial Property – Property and land whose primary intended use is for business purposes, such as offices, shops and industrial units.

Completion – The end point in a property transaction where the legal ownership of a property (commercial or residential) is transferred from seller to buyer and possession can occur.

Covenant – A clause in a lease requiring the tenant to act in a certain way, or indeed to refrain from acting in a certain way.

Dilapidations – These are defects or disrepairs which tenants are required to deal with (‘to make good’) or pay to have remedied when a lease comes to an end.

Exchange – The point at which contracts are exchanged between buyer and seller. This is a legal contract which neither party can walk away from without incurring a financial penalty.

Freehold – A property owned by the title holder in perpetuity.

FRI Lease – A Full Repairing and Insuring lease requires the tenant to bear the costs of all repairs and insurances for the duration of the lease term.

Land Registry – The Land Registry is a government department responsible for keeping and maintaining the Land Register of England and Wales. The department registers title to land in England and Wales and records dealings, such as sales and mortgages, with registered land. Searches will be requested from the Land Registry by solicitors as part of all property transactions.

Leasehold – The right to occupy a specified part of a building – such as an office block or apartment – for a specified length of time as written into the lease.

Lease – A lease is a binding contract in law which sets out the terms and conditions of the tenancy agreement between landlord and tenant and defines the rights and obligations of each party. It is enforceable by law.

Managing Agent – A Managing Agent is a firm appointed by a property owner to manage the property on their behalf. Instructions usually include collection of rent and insurance premiums from the tenant, as well as service charges and inspections to ensure the property has been satisfactorily maintained.

Market Rent – The annual rent a property can be expected to achieve on the open market with vacant possession.

Rent – A tenant’s regular payment to a landlord for the use of property or land.

Rent Review – The three to five-yearly review of the tenant’s rent paid to the landlord, usually on an ‘upwards only’ basis.

Service Charge – An independently audited amount of money as outlined in the lease used to cover the cost of maintaining common parts of the building (halls, gardens, heating, lighting, porter etc.) and a proportionate share of the costs of repair or redecoration of the building, for example roof or lift repairs.

Termination – The end of a lease, either at the end of the contractual term or by the exercise of a break clause by one of the parties.

Uniform Business Rate – The UBR (also known as the ‘multiplier’) is set annually by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA), an executive agency of HMRC and determines the percentage of the rateable value of your property that you will pay in business rates.

Use Classes –The separation of the uses of specific land and buildings into various categories, known in the industry as ‘use classes’, as laid out in The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987.

“RIB have been fantastic in letting and managing my flat. Th‎ey secured for me a very competitive rental income (higher than their competitors) and a tenant who is very professional and reliable. RIB have been excellent in working with both my tenant and my building management in resolving queries and issues. I would highly recommend RIB’s letting and management services.”

Lynette Chan

“I highly recommend RIB estate agents.  The team’s local knowledge of the area is excellent and they worked hard to get multiple viewings through the door.  When it came to getting an offer that I was satisfied with, Lee negotiated well in getting a good price that I was happy with.  Lee also managed the sale really well through the exchange and completion process, giving me peace of mind that I was in good hands!”


“RIB have a wealth of detailed knowledge and experience which shines through their assessments and advice. They have never failed to find us quality tenants. They have negotiated good deals, whilst protecting our interests, and processed all the paperwork quickly, efficiently and with the minimum of fuss. We feel we are kept well informed throughout the lettings process.”

C & J Thompson

“The quality of tenants RIB have found for us have been excellent. We have never had any problems with either the payment of rent or in respect of the care of the fabric and furnishings of the property.  We could not wish for any better service from a letting agent and would highly recommend RIB to any fellow landlords.”

C & J Thompson

“I have known RIB and Ajsen for a number of years since they helped me purchase my first flat.

I was impressed with Ajsen’s local market knowledge and the speed she responded to my enquiries, always helpful and focused on getting my purchase across the line particularly after solicitors were instructed.

I have real trust in RIB’s advice, they have taken the long term view for me rather than trying to get a ‘quick win’ sale. They now assist me with the letting of my flat and are responsive, flexible and always willing to go the extra mile for me.”

Dan Kent

“We have used RIB for many years for letting and investment advice and have always found them to be attentive, responsive and effective and willing to think “outside the box” to provide the best result for us”

Nigel Penso

“RIB have demonstrated their knowledge and experience in the market by landing us better letting deal compared to our previous agent. RIB goes above and beyond to make sure its clients are satisfied, no matter the day or time they are very accessible and accommodating. Moreover, I look forward to build a long-term relationship with the company for these reasons.”

Nuh Gulaid

“Julia Garber and her team at RIB were fantastic to work with. As a first time landlord, looking to rent my 2 bedroom flat in Fitzrovia, RIB guided me through every step of the process with great detail and clarity. More importantly, the end result far exceeded our expectations as Julia was able to negotiate a very strong price with high quality tenants. I will continue to use RIB exclusively in the future, given this very positive experience, and would highly recommend the company.”

Joshua Manasseh

“We have worked with RIB for many years to rent numerous of our West End properties, and more importantly, we continue to do so.  We find them to be helpful and with a finger on the pulse.  We’d certainly recommend them to others.” 

Sanjeev Patel

“I have used the management services of RIB for my property for some years. They have been professional in every aspect of my dealings with them. The staff are extremely competent and knowledgeable in their respective fields.  I have no hesitation in recommending their company. They are great.”

Sandra Milner

“RIB have acted as our agent for the last 3 years and as a property investment company, with over 30 years’ experience it was important to instruct an agency with similar experience. With Julia Garber leading the team, RIB, have the experience and knowledge to secure good quality tenants who are prepared to pay the market rent and remain in the property for the long term. We will continue to use RIB, as they are without doubt, one of the leading letting agents in London.”

Gordon Brodie

“From our initial meeting through to our first letting the experience has been a pleasant change with RIB staff showing great knowledge of the local market, quality of tenant right through to the back office administrative staff ensuring smooth quality value for money lettings from start to finish.”

Chris Chesterton

“I have used RIB now for a period perhaps exceeding 15 years. They manage and let I believe 11 properties for me .As an ex surveyor/estate agent myself I expect a high standard from any retained agent I chose to instruct and indeed they perfectly fit the bill. The staff are always exceedingly pleasant,deal with issues expediently,always courteous, and extremely knowledgeable. What more could I ask?”

Michael Collins

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