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Rental Glossary

Some of the jargon used in rental contracts can be confusing, particularly if English is your second language. Take a look at the below definitions to simplify the process of booking your accommodation.

Admin Fees

Most admin fees are now illegal and you should not be asked for any before you move in, such as for:

  • References
  • Credit and immigration checks
  • Renewing your tenancy when your fixed term contract has ended.

Contract/Tenancy Agreement

This 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.

Council Tax

A local tax charged by the council from which you, as a student, are exempt.

Deposit Deductions

This is 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.


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.

Holding Fees/Holding Deposit

This is a fee that agents charge to guarantee the property to you and to 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.


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 when they move out. It is illegal to charge you for the inventory.


Property owners.

Rent in Advance

This is rent upfront which is usually one month’s rent in addition to your 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.

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.

Standing Order

This is 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.

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.

TV Licence

If you will be doing any of the following, you will need to pay for a TV licence:

  • Watching or recording programmes as they’re being shown on TV or on an online TV service
  • Watching BBC programmes on iPlayer

If there are any terms you are unsure of that haven’t been covered above, please contact us on and we will help.

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