Key Terms

The Tenant Fees Bill passed on 1 June 2019 stops landlords and letting agents from charging most fees that were considered standard fees before. See the government guidance for tenants here.

Terms and Warnings

  • Landlords – property owners
  • Estate Agent – landlords’ representatives
  • Contract/tenancy agreement – gives certain rights to both you and your landlord, for example, your right to occupy the accommodation and your landlord’s right to receive rent for letting the accommodation. Both you and your landlord have rights and responsibilities given by law.
  • Guarantor - as a young student, your landlord might require you to ask someone to act as ‘guarantor’ – to provide a guarantee that the rent will be paid. This means that if you fail to pay the rent one month, the landlord can legally call on your guarantor to pay up instead of you. It is illegal to charge you for a guarantor credit check.
  • Admin fees – most admin fees are now illegal and you should not be asked for any before you move in.
  • Holding fees/holding deposit - this is a fee agents charge to guarantee the property to you and stop advertising it. A holding deposit usually contributes towards the security deposit you pay when you move in. Legally this cannot be more than one week's rent.
  • Security deposit - the deposit acts as security against non-payment of rent or damage to the property. Legally this cannot be more than five weeks' rent.
  • Tenancy deposit protection schemes - the landlord or an agency, must protect deposits in a government-approved tenancy deposit protection scheme. This helps ensure that you get back what you're entitled to at the end of the tenancy.
  • Rent in advance - this is rent upfront which is usually one month's rent in addition to you security deposit and any fees. By paying your rent in advance you'll always be paying rent for the month/s ahead.
  • You might be asked to pay several months’ rent in advance if you’re an international student, or if you don’t have a guarantor.
  • Standing order - an instruction to a bank by an account holder to make regular fixed payments to a particular person or organisation. Some landlords will ask you to set this up with your bank so your rent is automatically paid out of your account when it’s due.
  • Inventory – a document, which can be accompanied by photos, that documents the property, its contents and their condition. The tenant and landlord should both have their own copies. Two identical inventory reports are performed – one before the tenant moves in and another one when they move out. Other synonyms you might encounter are: move in/move out inventory, check in/check out inventory, schedule of condition, tenancy inventory, etc. It is illegal to charge you for the inventory for contracts starting after 1 June 2019.
  • Council tax - a tax collected by the borough for local services. Full-time students are exempt from this tax.
  • TV Licence - a TV Licence is a legal permission to install or use television receiving equipment to watch or record television programmes as they are being shown on TV or live on an online TV service, and to download or watch BBC programmes on demand, including catch up TV on BBC iPlayer.
  • Fine - a sum of money exacted as a penalty by a court of law or other authority.
  • Deposit deductions - money deducted from your security deposit before it's returned to you at the end of the tenancy. Only things that cost money can be deducted. For example, it's reasonable for your landlord to take money off your deposit to cover:
    • damage to the property or furniture
    • missing items that were listed on the inventory
    • paying for cleaning because the property was left in a dirty condition
    • outstanding rent owed by you or a joint tenant