Book a Property Valuation


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)


Legal Definition

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).


Listed Building

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.


Market appraisal

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)


Misleading statement

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.


Multiple Agency

See joint agency.



The National Association of Estate Agents.


Negative Equity

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.


Office Copy Entries

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


Order of court

An order from a court which requires the sale of a property, e.g. in a divorce case


Peppercorn Rent

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.


Party Wall

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.


Premium Lease

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


Penetrating Damp

Any form of dampness (except rising damp) transmitted from the exterior to the interior of a property


Permitted development

Small developments which may not require planning permission, e.g. adding a porch



Another term for the slope of a roof


Positive covenant

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)


Personal interest

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


Post-war property

A property built between approximately 1945 and 1970


Pre-contract deposit

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


Prohibition order

A penalty stopping someone or a firm acting as an estate agent, imposed by the Director General of Fair Trading under the Estate Agents Act 1979 (see also Warning order)


Private law

A branch of the law that deals with the relation ship between individuals, and between individuals and corporate bodies, rather than the relations between these and the state, e.g. law of contract, tort property


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


Property details/procedures

A document describing the details of a property, which is circulated to applicants (also known as sales particulars)


Public law

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


Restricted Covenant

An obligation restricting the use of land which is binding on subsequent owners, for examplenot 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


Raft foundation

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


Registered title

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


Reserve price

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


Rising damp

The passage of dampness to the interior of a building through the brick/stonework of the walls of the structure


Sales particulars

A document which describes the details of a property, which is circulated to applicants (also known as property details/particulars)


Sash window

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


Sloe agency

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


Specific performance

A remedy under equity, where a person who has breached a contract is made to fulfil the contract terms if possible


Specified matters

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


Statute law

The laws contained in Acts of Parliament. Also known as legislation


Strip foundation

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


SWOT analysis

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.


Soil Pipe

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.


Stamp Duty

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.


Timber frame construction

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.


Title Deeds

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


Trigger offence

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.


Unregistered title

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)


Under Offer

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


Vicarious liability

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.


Way leaves

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.


Warning order

A penalty warning for an estate agent as to their future conduct, imposed by the Director General of Fair Trading under the Estate Agents Act 1979 (see also Prohibited order)


Wet rot

This occurs when timber is exposed to wood rotting fungi

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