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Property Terminology

UK Property Terminology

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 Architectural Periods

A Grid of Dates will appear


Building Terms 



Estate Agency & Legal Phrases








1901 – 1910


1837 – 1901

Regency/late Georgian

1810 – 1830


1714 – 1830

Baroque/Queen Anne

1689 – 1714


1625 – 1689


1603 – 1625


1558 – 1603


1520 – 1558


1327 – 1520


1307 – 1350

Early English

1189 – 1307


1066 – 1189

Anglo Saxon

650 – 1066

Dark Ages

400 – 650


43 – 400

Iron Age

550BC – AD 43

Bronze Age

1800 – 550BC

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Aggregate: Pebbles, shingle, gravel etc. used in the manufacture of concrete, and in the construction of "soak aways".

Airbrick: Perforated brick used for ventilation, especially to floor voids (beneath timber floors) and roof spaces.

Architrave: Joinery moulding around window or doorway.

Asbestos: Fibrous mineral used in the past for insulation. Can be a health hazard specialist advice should be sought if asbestos (especially when blue asbestos) is found.

Asbestos Cement: Cement with 10-15% asbestos fibre as reinforcement. Fragile will not bear heavy weights. Hazardous fibres may be released if cut or drilled.

Ashlar: Thin slab of squared stone, used for facing walls or building.

Asphalt: Black, tar-like substance, strongly adhesive and impervious to moisture. Used on flat roofs and floors.

Barge Board: (See Verge Board)

Balanced Flue: Common metal device normally serving gas appliances which allows air to be drawn to the appliance whilst also allowing fumes to escape.

Beetle Infestation: (Wood boring insects: woodworm) Larvae of various species of beetle which tunnel into timber causing damage. Specialist treatment normally required. Can also affect furniture.

Benching: Smoothly contoured concrete slope beside drainage channel within an inspection chamber. Also known as staunching.

Bitumen: Black, sticky substance, related to asphalt. Used in sealants, mineral felts and damp-proof courses.

Boss: A decorative knob on a vaulted ceiling at points where the ribs meet.

Breeze Block: Originally made from cinders ("breeze") the term now commonly used to refer to various types of concrete and cement building blocks

Brick: An oblong block used for constructing buildings normally made from clay after being heated in a kiln.

Buttress: Solid structure, usually made of brick or stone, that is built against a wall to support it

Carbonation: A natural process affecting the outer layer of concrete. Metal reinforcement within that layer is liable to early corrosion, with consequent fracturing of the concrete.

Cavity Wall: Standard modern method of building external walls of houses comprising two leaves of brick or block work separated by a gap ("cavity") of about 50mm (2 inches).

Cavity Wall Insulation: Filling of wall cavities by one of various forms of insulation material - Beads: Polystyrene beads pumped into the cavities. Will easily fall out if the wall is broken open for any reason - Foam: Urea formaldehyde form, mixed on site, and pumped into the cavities where it sets. Can lead to problems of dampness and make replacement of wall-ties more difficult – Rock Wool: Inert mineral fibre pumped into the cavity.

Cavity Wall - Tie: Metal device bedded into the inner and outer leaves of cavity walls to strengthen the wall. Failure by corrosion can result in the wall becoming unstable specialist replacement ties are then required.

Cement: a grey powder which is mixed with water and sand to make mortar or with water, sand and small stones to make concrete.

Cesspool: A simple method of drain comprising a holding tank that needs frequent emptying. Not to be confused with Septic Tank.

Chipboard: Also referred to as "particle board". Chips of wood compressed and glued into sheet form. Cheap method of decking to flat roofs, floors and (with Formica or melamine surface) furniture, especially kitchen units.

Cob: Damp clay mixed with chopped straw and small stones, common in the West Country.

Collar: Horizontal timber member intended to restrain opposing roof slopes. Absence, removal or weakening can lead to Roof Spread.

Columns: An upright/vertical support that is part of a building or other structure and can be either a support or decoration shaped like a long cylinder (also known as pillars), often architecturally inspired from classical Greek and Roman buildings. Three main classical styles: Doric, Ionic and Corinthiam.

Combination Boiler: Modern form of gas boiler which activates on demand. With this form of boiler there is no need for water storage tanks, hot water cylinders etc and generally the pressure is much better for showers.

Concrete: a mixture of cement, sand, aggregate, and water in specific proportions that hardens to a strong stony consistency over varying lengths of time

Condensation: Occurs when warm moist air meets a cold surface. The water in the air then either settles as water droplets on the surface (as it does on windows for example),or if the surface is absorbent, it soaks into the surface. In the latter case condensation is often not noticed unless or until mould appears. (See also Ventilation)

Condensing Boiler: Condensing boilers are very energy efficient Central Heating boilers. They achieve this high level of efficiency by removing the heat from the fuel it is burning and also cooling the products of combustion, which are normally wasted up the flue, so much so that the water vapour in them turns into liquid thus more efficient than traditional boilers.

Coping/ Coping Stone: Usually stone or concrete, laid on top of a wall as a decorative finish and to stop rainwater soaking into the wall.

Corbel: Projection of stone, brick, timber or metal jutting out from a wall to support a weight.

Cornice: Ornamental moulded projection around the top of a building or around the wall of a room just below the ceiling.

Coving: Curved junction between wall and ceiling.

Dado Rail: Typically Victorian/Edwardian. A wooden moulding fixed horizontally to a wall, approximately 1 metre above the floor, originally intended to protect the wall against damage by the top of chair-backs, but  now very much a decorative feature.

Damp Proof Course: (DPC) Course Layer of impervious material (mineral felt, pvc etc or natural slate) incorporated into a wall to prevent dampness rising up the wall or lateral dampness around windows, doors etc. Various proprietary methods are available for damp proofing existing walls including "electro-osmosis" and chemical injection.

Death Watch Beetle: (Xestobium Refovillosum) Serious insect pest in structural timbers, usually affects old hardwoods with fungal decay already present.

Door: A movable barrier used to open and close the entrance to a building, room or cupboard.

Double Glazing: A method of thermal insulation usually either: Sealed unit: Two panes of glass fixed and hermetically sealed together; or Secondary: In effect a second "window" placed inside the original window.

Down Pipe: Drainage pipes from guttering to ground.

Dry Rot:(Serpula Lacrymans.) A fungus that attacks structural and joinery timbers, often with devastating results. Can flourish in moist, unventilated areas. Not to be confused with wet rot.

Eaves: The overhanging edge of a roof.

Efflorescence: Salts crystallised on the surface of a wall as a result of moisture evaporation.

Engineering Brick: Particularly strong and dense type of brick, sometimes used as damp-proof course.

Fibreboard: Cheap, lightweight board material of little strength, used in ceilings or as insulation to attics.

Finial: A carved decoration at the top of a gable, spire, or arched structure

Flashing: Building technique used to prevent leakage at a roof joint. Normally metal (lead, zinc, copper) but can be cement, felt or proprietary material.

Flaunching: A cement or mortar fillet at the junction where a masonry chimney stack comes through a roof that is designed to throw off water.

Flint: Small hard round stones set into mortar.

Flue: A smoke duct in a chimney, or a proprietary pipe serving a heat-producing appliance such as a central heating boiler.

Flue Lining: Metal (usually stainless steel) tube within a flue essential for high output gas appliances such as boilers. May also be manufactured from clay and built into the flue.

Flying Buttress: an exterior support for a wall (buttress) that sticks out from the wall and is typically arch-shaped, often used in Gothic cathedrals to withstand the outward thrust of the very high walls.

Foundations: Normally concrete, laid underground as a structural base to a wall - in older buildings may be brick or stone.

Frog: A depression imprinted in the upper surface of a brick, to save clay, reduce weight and increase the strength of the wall. Bricks should always be laid frog uppermost.

Fused Spur: Power socket that does not have a plug going into it, instead the cable from an appliance like a fridge, radiator, burglar alarm etc and has a fuse socket built into it.

Gable: Upper section of a wall, usually triangular in shape, at either end of a ridged roof. - Gable end.

Gang: Referred to for 13amp power pints 1 gang = 1 single socket 2 gang = 1 double socket.

Gargoyle: a spout in the form of a grotesque animal or human figure that projects from the gutter of a building and is designed to cast rainwater clear of the building.

Ground Heave: Swelling of clay sub-soil due to absorption of moisture: can cause an upward movement in foundations.

Gully: An opening into a drain, normally at ground level, placed to receive water etc. from down pipes and waste pipes. staunching: See Benching.It is also a term used to describe the support to a drain underground.

Guttering: Metal, plastic or concrete moulded channels used for taking water away from the bottom of roofs.

Hip: The external junction between two intersecting roof slopes.

Inspection Chamber: Commonly called a man hole. Access point to a drain comprising a chamber (of brick, concrete or plastic) with the drainage channel at its base and a removable cover at ground level.

Jamb: Side part of a doorway or window.

Joist: Horizontal structural timber used in flat roof, ceiling and floor construction. Occasionally also metal.

Landslip: Downhill movement of unstable earth, clay, rock etc. often following prolonged heavy rain or coastal erosion, but sometimes due entirely to sub-soil having little cohesive integrity.

Lath: Thin strip of wood used in the fixing of roof tiles or slates, or as a backing to plaster. Lath and plaster walls were very common in houses from late 1800,s to 1950's

Lintel: Horizontal structural beam of timber, stone, steel or concrete placed over window or door openings.

LPG: Liquid Petroleum Gas or Propane. Available to serve gas appliances in areas without mains gas. Requires a storage tank.

Man Hole: - See Inspection Chamber

Mortar: Mixture of sand, cement, lime and water, used to join stones or bricks.

Mullion: Vertical bar dividing individual lights in a window.

Newel: Stout post supporting a staircase handrail at top and bottom. Also, the central pillar of a winding or spiral staircase.

Oversite: Rough concrete below timber ground floors: the level of the oversite should be above external ground level.

Parapet: Low wall along the edge of a flat roof, balcony etc.

Pier: A vertical column of brickwork or other material, used to strengthen the wall or to support a weight.

Pillars: (See columns)

Pinnacle: A pointed ornament on top of a buttress or parapet.

Plasterboard: Stiff "sandwich" of plaster between coarse paper. Now in widespread use for ceilings and walls.

Pointing: Smooth outer edge of mortar joint between bricks, stones etc. 

Powder Post Beetle: (Bostrychidae or Lyctidae family of beetles) A relatively uncommon pest that can, if untreated, cause widespread damage to structural timbers.

Purling: Horizontal beam in a roof upon which rafters rest. Quoin: The external angle of a building; or, specifically, bricks or stone blocks forming that angle.

Rafter: A sloping roof beam, usually timber, forming the carcass of a roof.

Rendering: Vertical covering of a wall either plaster (internally) or cement (externally), sometimes with pebbledash, stucco or Tyrolean textured finish.

Reveals: The side faces of a window or door opening. Ridge: The apex of a roof.

Riser: The vertical part of a step or stair.

Rising Damp: Moisture soaking up a wall from below ground, by capillary action causing rot in timbers, plaster decay, decoration failure etc.

Roof Spread: Outward bowing of a wall caused by the thrust of a badly restrained roof carcass (see Collar).

Rubble: Broken stones, bricks, and other materials from buildings that have fallen down or been demolished. Also used for base layer in foundations prior to concrete.

Screed: Final, smooth finish of a solid floor, usually cement, concrete or asphalt.

Septic Tank: Tank Drain installation whereby sewage decomposes through bacteriological action, which can be slowed down or stopped altogether by the use of chemicals such as bleach, biological washing powders etc. Not to be confused with Cesspool.

Settlement: General disturbance in a structure showing as distortion in walls etc., possibly a result of major structural failure, very dry weather conditions etc. Sometimes of little current significance. (See also Subsidence)

Shakes: Naturally occurring cracks in timber; in building timbers, shakes can appear quite dramatic, but strength is not always impaired.

Shingles: Small rectangular slabs of wood used on roofs instead of tiles, slates etc.

Soak Away: Arrangement for disposal of rainwater, utilising graded aggregate laid below ground.

Soaker: Sheet metal (usually lead, copper or zinc) at the junction of a roof with a vertical surface of a chimneystack, adjoining wall etc. Associated with flashings that should overlay soakers.

Sofit: The under-surface of eaves, balcony, arch etc. Solid Fuel: Heating fuel, normally coal, coke or one of a variety of proprietary fuels.

Spandrel: Space above and to the sides of an arch; also the space below a staircase.

Stone: A piece of rock that has been shaped for a particular purpose, for example a corner stone, gravestone or a paving stone

Stud Partition: Lightweight, sometimes non-load bearing wall construction comprising a framework of timber faced with plaster, plasterboard or other finish.

Subsidence: Ground movement, generally downward, possible a result of mining activities or clay shrinkage.

Sub-Soil: Soil lying immediately below the topsoil, upon which foundations usually bear.

Sulphate Attack: Chemical reaction activated by water, between tricalcium aluminate and soluble sulphates. Can cause deterioration in brick walls and concrete floors.

Tie Bar: Heavy metal bar passing through a wall, or walls, to brace a structure suffering from structural instability.

Tile: Covering for floors or walls or roofs. Being thin, flat or shaped piece of baked, sometimes glazed, clay or synthetic material normally made in a symmetrical mould.

Timber: wood that has been sawn into boards, planks, or other materials for use in construction.

Torching: Mortar applied on the underside of roof tiles or slates to help prevent moisture penetration. Not necessary when a roof is underdrawn with felt.

Tracery: Decorative ribs in windows, especially medieval church windows, and screens.

Transom: Horizontal part of a step or stair.

Tread: The horizontal part of a step or stair.

Trussed Rafters: Method of roof construction utilising prefabricated triangular framework of timbers. Now widely used in domestic construction.

Underpinning: Method strengthening weak foundations whereby a new, stronger foundation is placed beneath the original.

Valley Gutter: Horizontal or sloping gutter, usually lead-or-tile-lined, at the internal intersection between two roof slopes.

Ventilation: Necessary in all buildings to disperse moisture resulting from bathing, cooking, breathing etc. and to assist in prevention of condensation. Floors -necessary to avoid rot, especially Dry Rot; achieved by airbricks near to ground level. Roofs - necessary to disperse condensation within roof spaces; achieved either by airbricks in gables or ducts at the eaves. (see Condensation)

Verge: The edge of a roof, especially over a gable.

Verge Board: Timber, sometimes decorative plastic material, placed at the verge of a roof: also known as bargeboard.

Wainscot: Wood panelling or boarding on the lower part of an internal wall.

Wall Plate: Timber placed at the eaves of a roof, to take the weight of the roof timbers.

Waste Pipe: Drainage pipe for baths, basins, wc's.

Wet Rot: (Coniophora Puteana) Decay of timber due to damp conditions. Not to be confused with the more serious Dry Rot.

Window: Opening in a wall of a building, usually with an inner frame of wood or metal with glass fitted to it, to let in light or, when opened, air.

Woodworm: Colloquial term for beetle infestation: usually intended to mean Common Furniture Beetle (Anobium Punctatum): by far the most frequently encountered insect attack in structural and joinery timbers.



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Affordable Housing: low cost housing for sale or rent, often from a housing association, to meet the needs of local people who cannot afford accommodation through the open or low cost market, or subsidised housing.


Agent: Somebody representing somebody else in business, usually under contract, especially in buying and selling property or insurance.


Agricultural Dwelling: a dwelling which is subject to a condition or legal agreement that it shall only be occupied by someone who is employed or was last employed solely or mainly in agriculture, forestry or other appropriate rural employment.

Ancillary Use: a subsidiary use connected to the main use of a building or piece of land.

Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty: area designated by the Countryside Agency or the Countryside Council for Wales where the primary purpose is the conservation and enhancement of natural beauty including flora, fauna, geology and landscape.


Arrangement Fee: A fee charged by some lenders when the broker is arranging the mortgage/loan facility.


Asking Price: The price that is being asked on the open market for the property.


Back-land: land which is behind existing development with no, or very limited, road frontage.


BPEO (Best Possible Environmental Option): The option that provides the most benefits or the least damage for the environment, as a whole, at acceptable cost, in the long term as well as the short term. (defined in the 12th report of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution)


Betterment: the amount by which the value of land is increased by development or by the grant of planning permission, or because of the development of neighbouring land.


Bio-diversity: a measure of the number and range of species and their relative abundance in a community.


Bio-diversity Action Plan: the means by which the UK government commitment to the Convention on Biological Diversity at Rio de Janeiro (1992) is to be met.


Break Clause: The point as in terms and conditions when a contract can be terminated.


Bridging Loan: temporary finance 'bridging' the period between completion on the purchase of a property and the sale of an existing property, funds from which are intended to finance/part finance the new purchase.


Brown-field Site: land which has been previously developed, excluding mineral workings or other temporary uses.


Building Preservation Order: a notice under Section 3 of the Planning ( Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 to protect buildings of special architectural or historic interest from demolition or alterations that would affect their interest.


Cadw: government agency supporting the preservation, conservation, enhancement, interpretation and appreciation of historic buildings and monuments in Wales.

Change of Use: more correctly referred to as a 'material change of use'. A change in the use of land or buildings that is of significance for planning purposes, often requiring planning permission.


Chain: Where houses are linked in and around the process of sales. A complete chain means that all properties in the chain require no further properties for all vendors to move/sell. An incomplete chain means that one or more of the properties in the chain remain unsold.


Charge: a mortgage deed which lenders (building societies, banks etc) require borrowers to sign. It is registered against the property until the loan is repaid and the charge is removed.


Charge Certificate: an official document issued by the Land Registry to the owner of a registered charge as proof of ownership. It includes a copy of the register and the original charge.


Chief Rent: an annual charge on freehold property found in certain parts of Britain. The chief rent is payable by the freeholder in perpetuity although the amount cannot be increased.


Commission: fee paid to your estate agent, usually following exchange of contracts.


Community Forests: A joint initiative between the Countryside Agency and the Forestry Commission to promote the creation, regeneration of well-wooded landscapes around major towns and cities.


Completion/Completion Date: the date when the purchaser and vendor complete the sale of land or property. The purchaser pays the balance of the purchase price and the vendor gives possession to the purchaser.


Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs): notice issued by the government or a local authority to acquire land or buildings for public interest purposes.


Conservation Area: an area given statutory protection under the Planning Acts, in order to preserve and enhance its character and townscape.

Conservation Area Consent: consent required from the local planning authority before demolishing an unlisted building in a conservation area.


Conditions of Sale: Conditions as laid down in the conveyance.


Contaminated Land: land which has been polluted or harmed in some way rendering it unfit for safe development and most practical uses.


Contract: the formal document which details all the terms of sale. The contract is prepared by the vendor's solicitor and a copy is sent to the purchaser.


Controlled Parking Zone (CPZ): an area in which all kerbside space is controlled by either waiting or loading restrictions or by designated parking spaces.


Conversions: the sub-division of residential properties into bedsits, self-contained flats or maisonettes.


Conveyance: a deed which transfers freehold land which is unregistered.


Conveyancer: The legal representative who drawers up the contract and checks the legal responsibilities of their client which includes transferring funds to/from sale including mortgage funds. The conveyancer also acts for either the buyer or the seller. Many buyers and sellers also use solicitors who specialise in property transactions.


Conveyancing: name given to the legal procedure required to transfer ownership of a property from one party to another.


Countryside Agency: organisation responsible for advising government and taking action on issues affecting the social, economic and environmental well-being of the English countryside.


Deed: the legal documents relating to property. These will include all matters which relate to the property since it was built.


Deposit: The down payment on the property as supplied by the buyer/s. Normally a percentage of the purchase price.


Derelict Land: Land so damaged by industrial or other development that it is incapable of beneficial use without treatment.


Development: the carrying out of building, engineering, mining or other operations in, on, over or under land, or the making of any material change in the use of any buildings or land.


Development Area: a priority area for environmental, social or economic regeneration or a combination of these.


Development Brief: document providing detailed information to guide developers on the type of development, design and layout constraints and other requirements for a particular, usually substantial, site.


Development Control: the process whereby a local planning authority decides whether a planning application meets the requirements of planning policy, particularly as set out in development plans.


Development Plan: document (a structure or local plan) that sets out in writing and/or in maps and diagrams a local planning authority's policies and proposals for the development and use of land and buildings in the authority's area.


Draft Transfer: a legal document issued by the vendor's solicitor to the purchaser's solicitor setting out the terms and conditions of sale.


Early Redemption Fee: Most lenders charge the borrower for paying off the mortgage early.


Easement: right of access for a particular purpose, granted to someone who is not the owner of the land in question.


Edwardian: property built between approximately 1901 -1910.


Elizabethan: property built between approximately 1558 -1603.


Enforcement Notice: notice requiring the discontinuance of an unauthorised use and/or the removal of buildings, including restoration of land, where development has been begun without permission or in breach of a condition.


English Heritage (Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England): an important national body funded by the government to promote and give advice on building conservation matters.


English Nature: a national body funded by the government to promote and give advice on the conservation of England's wildlife and natural features.


Engrossment: when the draft deeds to a property are approved they are engrossed for the vendor and purchaser to sign.


Environmental Appraisal: the process of weighing all the policies in a development plan for their global, national and local implications.


Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA): under the Town and Country Planning (Assessment of Environmental Effects) Regulations 1988, proposers of certain scheduled developments are required to submit a planning application with an accompanying environmental statement, evaluating the likely environmental impacts of the development, together with an assessment of how the severity of the impacts could be reduced.


Equity: the difference between what is owed by way of mortgage on a property and the remaining value of the property.


Established use: a use which does not conform to a plan but against which enforcement proceedings cannot be taken, often because of the length of time a use has been in operation.


Established Use Certificate - these were issued by a planning authority before July 1992 where it could be shown that a use of land or buildings had existed since before 1964. It gave immunity from enforcement action. Since July 1992 these have been replaced by Lawful Development Certificates.


Exchange of Contracts: point at which vendor and purchaser exchanges binding contracts with the payment of  deposit (normally 10% legally binding), at the same time agreeing to a completion date.


Fixtures and Fittings: non removable items within the property. These are items that permanently fixed in position. e.g. the bath, toilet, light fittings, doors and radiators.

Freehold: legal ownership of land. A freehold interest in property means absolute ownership, although technically all land is held from the Crown.


Gazumping: The term for the situation when a vendor has accepted an offer but they goes on to accept a higher offer from a another buyer.


Gazundering: This situation normally happens near or on the day when contracts are due to exchange and is when a buyer re-offers at a lower figure than is stated on the contract.


Georgian: property built between approximately 1714 -1830. Merges to latter with Regency


Green Belt: specially designated area of countryside protected from most forms of development in order to stop urban sprawl and the coalescence of settlements, preserve the character of existing settlements and encourage development to locate within existing built-up areas.

Green-field Site: an area not previously used for built development.


Ground Rent: rent paid to the owner of freehold land by a person who has a Lease.


Guarantor: someone who guarantees an obligation of another.


Habitable Room: all living rooms and bedrooms, but not kitchens, bathrooms, WCs or circulation space, are normally regarded as habitable for the purposes of density calculations.


Hectare: a metric measurement of an area of land equivalent to 2.47 acres. An acre contains 4840 square yards.


Home Condition Report: Part of the HIP (Home Information Pack) that contains essential information about the property.


Home Buyers Report: A standard survey that evaluates condition and repairs.


Home Information Pack: (HIP) A pack that is necessary for vendors to have prepared to market their property (enforceable from August 2007 for 4 bed plus houses, but to become compulsory on all residential dwellings later.


Infrastructure: permanent resources serving society's needs, including roads, sewers, schools, hospitals, railways, communication networks etc.


Integrated Transport Strategy: the integration of land-use and transportation planning to allow transport provision and the demand for travel to be planned and managed together, balancing the use of different modes of transport to encourage easy transfer between them and reduced reliance on the private car.


Landlord: the owner of a property being let to a tenant.


Land Certificate: land document issued by the Land Registry to the owner of registered land as proof of ownership. It includes a copy of the register and the plan showing the extent of the land.


Land Compensation: concerns the assessment of compensation where land, or some other interest in land, is being acquired, either compulsorily, or by agreement, by an authority possessing compulsory purchase powers.


Land Registry: the Land Registry is a Government body responsible for the registration of title to land. Registration enables the sale of land and property to take place without the time intensive and expensive exercise of checking through title deeds.


Land Search: a formal application for an inspection of the Land Registry register. A certificate is issued showing the current situation of the land in question.


Lessor: person responsible for granting a lease - normally the landlord.


Listed Building - building or other structure of special architectural or historic interest included on a statutory list and assigned a grade (I, II* or II) and in Scotland grade 1, 2 and 3.


Listed Building Consent: Permission required for the alteration or demolition of a listed building.


Local Nature Reserve (LNR): area designated under the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 as being of particular importance to nature conservation and where public understanding of nature conservation issues is encouraged.


Local Plan: statutory development plan prepared by a local planning authority setting out detailed policies for environmental protection and development.


Local Planning Authority: the local authority or council that is empowered by law to exercise planning functions. This is normally the local borough or district council, but in National Parks and some other areas there is a different arrangement.


Local Search: a questionnaire sent to a local Authority by a purchaser's solicitor to verify whether a property is affected by planning proposals, tree preservation orders, etc.


Market Appraisal: The term used by some agents, when inspecting a property to access its marketability.


Metropolitan: constituting a large urban area, usually including a city, its suburbs and outlying areas.


Mortgage in Principle: This is when a lender agrees (subject to other conditions being met) to provide mortgage funding to a limit.


Mortgage Offer: a formal offer of mortgage issued by a building society, bank or other lender once the usual formalities such as references and valuation have been carried out.


Mortgagee: a lender of money, to be secured on the property in question.


Mortgage Indemnity: in cases where applicants require a mortgage which exceeds the lender's normal limits they may require the applicant to take out a mortgage indemnity policy with an insurance company for the difference.


Mortgagor: the borrower, upon whose property the loan is secured.


Mortgage Valuation: An inspection on instruction of the lender for a qualified valuer/inspector to assess the property to be loaned against value.


National Assembly for Wales: Government body in Wales that debates and approves legislation and holds the Welsh Assembly Government to account.


National Nature Reserve: area designated by English Nature to protect and conserve nationally important areas of wildlife habitat and geological formations and to promote scientific research; in Wales it is an SSSI that the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW) has designated of national or international importance for nature conservation. (Note: on the CCW website I noticed that they also refer to National Nature Reserves, as well as SSSIs)


National Park: tract of predominantly open and attractive countryside designated under the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 with its own administration and management role and function as a local planning authority.


Nature Conservation: the preservation, management and enhancement of natural plant and animal communities, and occasionally modified vegetation, as representative samples of their kind.


New Town: free-standing new settlement designated and planned under the New Towns Act 1946 and subsequent legislation.


Office Copies Entries: a Land Registry term for copies of registers and plans, they are officially marked "office copy" and are legally recognised.


Off Plan: When buyers agree to buy a new build home or renovation based on architects drawings/plans and schedule of build.


Out-of-town: an out-of-centre development on a green-field site or on land not clearly within the current urban boundary.


Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest (GSHI): parks and gardens containing historic features dating from 1939 or earlier and registered by English Heritage in three grades as with historic buildings.


Permitted Development Rights: rights to carry out certain limited forms of development without the need to make an application for planning permission, as granted under the terms of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995.


Planning Obligations and Agreements: legal agreements between a planning authority and a developer, or offered unilaterally by a developer, ensuring that certain extra works related to a development are undertaken, usually under Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.


Planning Gain: the principle of a developer agreeing to provide additional benefits or safeguards, often for the benefit of the community, usually in the form of related development supplied at the developer's expense.


Planning Permission: This is when a local authority grants authority for building to take place or alterations to be made on land/property in accordance with local authority guidelines and regulations.


Pre-Contract Enquiries: enquiries made by the purchaser's solicitor to the vendor's solicitor requiring information relating to the property being purchased prior to exchange of contracts.


Private Treaty: formal name given to the method by which most estate agents will undertake the sale of residential property. This term covers the whole range of services normally associated with the sale process, culminating in 'exchange of contracts' and 'completion' between vendor and purchaser.


Probate: legal term applied to the process of proving that a will is valid.


Proposals Map: an obligatory component of a local plan showing the location of proposals in the plan on an Ordnance Survey base map.


Protected Species: plant and animal species, including all wild birds,  protected under the Conservation (Natural Habitats and Conservation) Regulations 1994, the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and subsequent amendments, or other species protected under legislation specific to them ie frogs, newts etc.


Public Open Space (POS): land provided in urban or rural areas for public recreation, though not necessarily publicly owned.


Public Realm: outdoor areas accessible to the public.


Public Right of Way: a way where the public has a right to walk, and in some cases ride horses, bicycles, motorcycles or drive motor vehicles, which will be designated either as a footpath, a bridleway, a road used as a public path (RUPP) or a byway.


Purchaser: the buyer of a property.


Purchase Notice: this requires a local planning authority to purchase an interest in land where a planning decision conflicts with the private interests of landowners.


Regency: property built between approximately 1810 -1830.


Rent Charge: a small charge reserved to a previous owner of land that is paid to him or his successors annually out of freehold land. It is not a rent.


Repayment Mortgage: a mortgage which involves the repayment of both capital and interest in monthly instalments within a specified term of years.


Reserve Price: properties for sale by auction are normally offered subject to a 'reserve'in which case the property is withdrawn if the highest bid does not reach the reserve price.


Ribbon development: a narrow band of development extending along one or both sides of a road.


Rural Development Area: priority area for economic and social development.


Rural Diversification: activities undertaken on surplus land to support farming incomes, including, for example, forestry, leisure and tourism.


Scheduled Ancient Monument: a structure placed on a schedule compiled by the Department of National Heritage in England and Cadw in Wales for protection under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act.


Searches: procedure undertaken by a solicitor or legal representative during the conveyancing process to establish whether any issues exist which may adversely affect the property which is to be purchased. Especially in relation to planning and environmental issues.


Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI): area identified by English Nature or Countryside Council for Wales for protection by reason of the rarity of its nature conservation or wildlife features.


Special Needs Housing: housing to meet need arising from homelessness or overcrowding, and purpose-built or supported housing for the elderly or disabled people or those requiring care.


Stamp Duty: Government tax levied on the purchaser of a property and calculated as a percentage of the purchase price.


Statutory: required by law (statute), usually through an Act of Parliament.


Statutory Undertakers/Statutory Utilities: providers of essential services such as gas, electricity, water or telecommunications.


Subject to Contract: when an offer is made to purchase a property 'subject to contract' it means that all the dealings are subject to the actual exchange of the contract itself. Nothing is binding on either the vendor or purchaser until the contracts are exchanged.


Sum Insured: The amount you have insured your property or items. Broken down into the categories of ‘Buildings’ and ‘Contents’. The amounts stated will be the maximum amounts payable by the insurers.


Surveys: the three main types are:

  1. VALUATION - (prepared for house purchase, mortgage purposes, insurance or probate). 
  2. HOMEBUYER SURVEY AND VALUATION - (carried out by a Chartered Surveyor/Valuer and designed to focus on urgent or significant matters requiring attention).
  3. BUILDING SURVEY AND VALUATION - (A more detailed inspection suitable for large or older type buildings).

Sustainable Development: environmentally responsible development, commonly defined as "development which meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs".


Tenancy In Common: when property is held jointly between two people and each of them own an individual share which can be passed on under a Will.


Tenant: person occupying a property, normally subject to the terms of a lease agreed with the landlord.


Tender: in the process known as 'For Sale By Tender' the asking price will not be stated. Instead, written offers will be invited and a closing date for such offers published. All offers are normally opened at the same time, usually with the vendor's solicitor present. Generally, the vendor is not committed to accepting the highest or any offer.


Tenure: a collective term relating to the nature of the vendor's title to a property i.e. freehold, leasehold or common hold.


Town Centre: describes city, town and traditional suburban centres which provide a broad range of facilities and services and which fulfil a function as a focus for a community and for public transport.


Townscape: the appearance and character of buildings and all other features of an urban area taken together as a whole.


Traffic Calming: management measures designed to lower traffic speeds or redirect traffic to alternative routes to avoid congestion, reduce accidents and injuries and prevent excess levels of pollution.


Transfer Deed: the legal transfer of ownership on completion of the sale of registered land or property.


Travel to Work Area (TTWA): a broadly self-contained labour market area usually focused on an urban employment centre.


Tree Preservation Order (TPO): direction made by a local planning authority that makes it an offence to cut, top, lop, uproot or wilfully damage or destroy a tree without that authority's permission.


Tudor: property built between approximately 1485 -1550.


Unitary Development Plan: local plan produced by certain unitary district authorities and London boroughs which have responsibility for the full range of local authority services.


Unregistered Land: land which is not registered with the Land Registry. Proof of ownership is by production of the Deeds.


Urban Fringe: predominantly open land on the edge of an existing urban area.


Urban Regeneration: the re-use or redevelopment of decaying or run-down parts of older urban areas to bring them new life and economic vitality.


Vacant Possession: the date by which the vendor agrees to give up possession of the property (see 'Completion'). A well used estate agency phrase which means that the property being offered will be vacant upon completion of the sale. The property is therefore offered free from any such encumbrances as a sitting tenant or service tenancy.


Vendor: the legal owner of a property which is being offered for sale.


Victorian: property built between approximately 1837 -1901.


Village envelope: boundaries defined on a map beyond which the local planning authority proposes that a village should not be allowed to extend.

Wildlife Corridor: a continuous area facilitating the movement of wildlife through rural or urban environments.

Wind Farm: large open site where wind speeds are consistently high on which a number of wind turbines generate electricity for private or commercial use.


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