Info & advice Glossary of terms. Definitions

Glossary of terms. Definitions

Assured short-hold tenancy

The most common form of tenancy in the UK. Similar to an Assured tenancy but lasting for a fixed period of at least 6 months. More popular as it makes it easier for the landlord to give notice and end the agreement.

Assured tenancy

Gives you the right to remain in a property unless the landlord can convince the court there are good reasons to evict you (such as rent arrears, damage etc.).


Single room accommodation which serves as a bedroom and living space in one. Generally sharing a bathroom and/or kitchen with others. Abbreviation of 'bed sitting room'.

Buddy up

Seen a 2 bed+ flat or house you like but can't afford it on your own? Why not club together with friends or like-minded people on SpareRoom and start your own flat or house share? To find out what implications this has in terms of tenancy agreements etc, see our guide to buddying up.


A single storey house.

Buy to let

The term used to describe buying a property with the specific intention of renting it out rather than living in it.

Buy to share

Describes the increasing trend of buying a property with the intention of renting out one or more rooms to help pay the mortgage. Some lenders offer specialist mortgages for this.


Buying with another person who isn't your partner, generally in order to be able to afford property you couldn't otherwise.

Contents insurance

A policy covering your personal posessions, clothes, furniture etc as opposed to Buildings insurance which covers the structure itself. See also Room Contents insurance.


Refers to a house which has been divided to make 2 or more flats.


Generally refers to smaller rural properties.


A fixed sum taken by landlords/letting agents at the start of a tenancy to cover reasonable losses (rent arrears, damage etc.). See also Tenancy deposit scheme.


Refers to a house which is completely separate from its neighbours

Ex-local authority

Refers to a property which was formerly owned by the council. Often, especially in London, this refers to purpose built blocks of flats.


Generally refers to a property occupying only part of a building, known as an apartment in the US. Blocks of flats can be purpose built or in converted houses.

Flatmate / Flat mate / Flatmates / Flat mates

A term mainly used in the UK and Australia to describe someone who shares the flat or apartment with you. Generally housemate is used when the property is a house. Find a flatmate.

Flatshare / Flat share / Flatshares / Flat shares

Sharing a property with one or more people where each person usually has their own bedroom. Find a flatshare.

Fractional letting

Usually used to describe ongoing lettings which don't cover the whole week. The most common example is Monday-Friday lets where the tenant is elsewhere for weekends.

Garden flat

Literally a flat with a garden

Granny flat

Smaller self-contained flat at the back or on an upper floor of the main property. Usually with its own front door.


Usually refers to a whole property. One house can contain several flats.


A floating house generally, but not always, converted from a boat.

Housemate / Housemates / House mate / House mates

See flatmate


House in Multiple Occupation. Refers to certain types of accomodation shared by several people. See our guide to HMOs for more information.

Houseshare / House Share / Houseshares / House shares

See flatshare

Landlord's insurance

A specific type of insurance offered by certain companies to cover the needs of landlords. Can cover anything from rent losses and damage to re-housing tenants in the case of emergencies.

Live-in landlord

A homeowner who rents out one or more rooms in their property whilst living there themselves.

Live-out landlord

A landlord who rents a property they do not live in themselves


A lodger is a tenant who rents a room (or rooms) in another's house, usually from a Live in landlord. Find a lodger | Guide to taking in a lodger.


A rented room in a shared flat or house where the owner is present. A person who takes lodgings is a lodger.

Loft apartment

Generally in former industrial premises and often open plan in layout loft apartments usually have high ceilings and lots of natural light.


A flat on two levels with internal stairs and/or its own street-level front door.


A very large or expensive house. Used in London to describe a style of purpose built flats which generally have high ceilings.


Mews are traditionally rows of former stables converted into residential properties. The ground floor stable area is generally a garage and the living quarters (which would have housed the ostler) are above.


Not available to those reliant on state benefits to pay their rent

Party wall

The wall shared by two connected properties.


Per calendar month


Top floor of a multi-storey building. Generally the most desirable flat in taller buildings due to improved views, no upstairs neighbours and a greater distance from street noise.

Purpose built

Refers to a collection of flats built as such rather than a conversion


Per week

Rent a room scheme

A government scheme which allows you to earn up to £4,250 a year tax free by taking in a lodger.

Room contents insurance

A specific policy to cover those who rent a room within a property.

Roommate / Roommates / Roomate / Roomates

An american term which is now used internationally due to American film and TV. As the name suggests it can either be use to describe someone who shares a room with you, or who shares a flat or house with you (i.e. they don't have to be in the same room to bes described as a roommate!)

Seasonal lettings

Describes short term lets covering a particular time of year (eg. Summer, the duration of a particular event etc.)

Semi or Semi detached

Refers to two houses joined together.


A term usually applied to those living in shared accommodation together.

Speed Flatmating ®

Find a flatmate using the speed dating format.


Generally a single room for cooking, living and sleeping with its own bathroom.

Sub-let / Subletting

An arrangement where the existing tenant lets all or part of the property to another. This is a complicated issue, check our subletting article for more information on this subject.

Tenancy agreement

A contract (verbal or written but usually written) between landlord and tenant. The contract outlines the rights both parties have (eg. your right to occupy the property and the landlord's right to receive rent from you).

Tenancy deposit scheme

A government scheme introduced in 2007 to safeguard deposits taken by landlords.


Someone who rents and occupies a property from another

Terraced house

A house in a row of (usually) identical properties connected to each other by shared (or 'party') walls.


Refers to a style of upper class house (generally in London) often with 3 or more floors.

Walk-up flat

Generally refers to a block of flats (mostly low rise) which have individual front doors externally (as opposed to off a communa internal hallway).

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