A Landlord's Glossary

As a landlord, there are many terms that you will encounter on a frequent basis and should become familiar with

  • Tuesday, February 4, 2014

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As a landlord, there are many terms that you will encounter on a frequent basis and should become familiar with:

  • Americans with Disabilities Act - Passed by Congress in 1990, this law requires all public facilities and businesses to be accessible to individuals with disabilities.
  • Abandonment - This term refers to a situation in which a tenant becomes delinquent in the payment of his or her rent and indicates by either actions or words that they have vacated the property.
  • Arbitration - Use of a neutral third party to resolve a dispute as an alternative to going to court.
  • Common Area - Refers to areas that are accessible to all tenants or residents. May include laundry rooms, stairways, hallways, playgrounds, and recreational areas.
  • Consumer Report - Refers to a detail report providing personally identifiable information related to an individual's lifestyle, character, or credit.
  • Consumer Reporting Agency - Refers to an entity responsible for collecting and distributing information for credit evaluation regarding consumers.
  • Credit Report - A report that describes an individual's credit history over the course of the last seven years.
  • Credit Score - A numerical value that is used to indicate the likelihood of credit behaviors, which may include defaulting on payment.
  • Default - Refers to the failure of a tenant to do something as required by law, such as making payments according to a lease.
  • Co-Signer - An individual in addition to a tenant who agrees to be responsible for the payment and conditions of the lease.
  • Certified Mail - Refers to a written verification provided by the Postal Services that confirms by signature that a document was delivered to the addressee.
  • Default Judgment - A judgment as issued by a court in the absence of a hearing. Used in a situation in which a tenant has not filed a response in regards to a complaint issued by a landlord.
  • Eviction - A court proceeding used to remove a tenant due to a violation of the lease agreement.
  • Discrimination - Denying an individual housing or even stating that there are no vacancies because of the individual's color, race, sex, religion, sexual orientation, ancestry, national origin, age, marital status, or disability.
  • Equal Housing Opportunity - Refers to laws that specifically prohibit discrimination in housing on the basis of religion, color, race, national origin, sex, disability, age, or familial status.
  • Fair Credit Reporting Act - A law regulating the way in which consumer credit information is gathered and disseminated. Under this law, seven and ten year limits apply regarding the length of time in which negative information may be reported. Under a 1997 amendment to the law, landlords are required to notify tenants in the event that they are rejected due to information contained in their credit file or in references from prior landlords.
  • Fair Housing Act - Refers to the law that prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of color, race, national origin, religion, disability, familial status, or sex.
  • Fees - Refers to funds collected from tenants that are non-refundable at the end of the tenancy. Such fees may include fees for cleaning, screening, pets, etc.
  • Forcible Entry - Entry by a landlord into a leased unit or property without the consent of the tenant. This term can also be used to describe a tenant who continues to reside in a property following the termination of a rental or lease agreement after a written demand of possession is issued.
  • Guest - An individual who does not possess the rights of a tenant but who is allowed to stay on the premises for a set period of time.
  • Inspection Checklist - A written statement or checklist that describes the cleanliness or condition of a premises. Signed by both the tenant and the landlord.
  • Lead-based Paint Disclosure - This is a document that is required to be provided to all tenants prior to entering a rental agreement. Applies to properties constructed prior to 1978.
  • Lease - An oral or written contract between a tenant and a landlord that allows the tenant to inhabit the property for a set period of time.
  • Lessee - Refers to the tenant.
  • Lessor - Refers to the landlord.
  • Lease Option - A contract that allows a tenant to lease a property for an established period of time and retain the right to purchase the property at a later time without any obligation to purchase the property. No other individual may purchase the property until the option period expires.
  • Mediation - Refers to a method for resolving disputes through the use of an impartial third party to reach a voluntary settlement. No formal court procedures are used in a mediation. The agreement is not binding by law.
  • Market Rent - Refers to the prevailing month rent for comparable units located in a specific area.
  • Month-to-Month - Refers to the rental of a unit for an indefinite period of time. May also refer to period by which rent is paid.
  • Normal Wear and Tear - Common deterioration that occurs as a result of normal use without misuse, abuse, accident, carelessness, or negligence occurring.
  • Nuisance - Any activity or conduct by a tenant that is determined to be egregious in nature and which affects the safety or health of other tenants. May include foul odors, infestations, chronic excessive noise, etc.
  • Occupancy Rate - Refers to the percentage of time that a property or unit is rented during a specific period of time.
  • Rental Criteria - Refers to a set of criteria that applicants must meet in order to qualify as a tenant. All criterion must be applied by landlords in a fair and consist manner.
  • Renter's Insurance - Insurance that is designed to protect tenants against loss of property as well as liability from lawsuits or claims filed by the landlords or others in the event of injury.
  • Security Deposit - Funds paid by the tenant to the landlord as a deposit for the tenant's obligations as outlined by a lease.
  • Sublet - An agreement between the original tenant and a new tenant that allows the new tenant to take over the lease of the unit. Both tenants are responsible for ensuring the terms of the lease are met.
  • 10-Day Notice to Comply with Rental Agreement or Vacate - A document used in the event that a tenant breaks the terms of a rental agreement or lease in a manner other than failing to pay the rent.
  • 3-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Vacate - In the event that a tenant defaults on the payment of the rent, this notice may be used in most states to begin eviction proceedings.
  • Tenant Screening - A process used to evaluate prospective tenants to determine whether the tenant is likely to fulfill the terms of the rental agreement or lease.
  • Writ of Possession - Refers to the process in which a landlord takes back control of a property. Typically issued through a court order during an eviction process.


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