Glossary A-Z

This content applies to England & Wales

Contents

A2 states

Bulgaria and Romania.

A8 states

Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia.

Abandonment

Abandonment is a term used to describe when an occupier leaves a property without giving prior notice to the landlord or formally terminating the tenancy. The term has no specific legal meaning.

Abatement Notice

A notice served by a local authority's environmental health department telling a person responsible for a statutory nuisance to take the steps necessary to stop the nuisance.

Accelerated possession procedure

A court procedure that allows landlords to get a possession order against an assured shorthold tenant without a hearing if there is no dispute over the facts of the case and the only claim is for possession.

Accommodation office

A department of a college or university that deals with housing for students.

Acknowledgement of service

A form (N9) that is sent to the court by the defendant to acknowledge receipt of the claim form and particulars of claim.

Adaptations

Works that can be carried out to a property to make it suitable for a person who has a disability or other needs, such as making it accessible for wheelchair users.

Adjournment

An order by the court that proceedings are put off to a certain day in the future, or indefinitely. Adjournments may be made on terms, eg on condition that a defendant pays the current rent plus an amount towards the arrears.

Adverse possession

Adverse possession is the occupation or possession of land by a person not legally entitled to it. If adverse possession continues unopposed for a period specified by law, such occupation could extinguish the title of the legal owner. In this way, under certain circumstances, a squatter can come onto land, occupy it, and subsequently gain legal ownership of it.

Affidavit

A written statement, sworn before someone authorised to administer oaths. They are now rarely used in housing cases, but may be used in applications under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, or applications for committal following a breach of injunction. For most other cases they have been replaced by witness statements containing ‘statements of truth'.

Agency fees

Charges made by accommodation agencies for finding accommodation for tenants, or for finding tenants for landlords. Some agencies also charge for drawing up and renewing tenancy agreements.

Aggravated damages

Additional damages that the court may award as compensation for the defendant's objectionable behaviour.

Agricultural occupiers

Agricultural occupiers live in accommodation let to them or arranged for them by their employer as a condition of their employment. For an agricultural occupancy to exist, the occupier must be a qualifying worker (in agricultural employment), have a relevant license or tenancy and occupy a dwelling house that is in qualifying ownership. For more information see the page on Definition of agricultural occupiers.

Allocations

The way in which local authorities and registered social landlords make offers of permanent accommodation.

Alternative dispute resolution

Collective description of methods of resolving disputes outside the court system.

Antisocial behaviour

Actions that cause harassment, alarm or distress to other people, such as neighbours (eg noise, abuse, drug dealing, violence).

Anti-social Behaviour Order (ASBO)

Civil orders that exist to protect the public from behaviour that causes, or is likely to cause, harassment, alarm, or distress. An order contains conditions prohibiting the offender from committing certain antisocial acts or from entering certain areas, and is effective for a minimum of two years. The orders are not criminal penalties and are not intended to punish the offender. ASBOs were introduced by the Crime and Disorder Act 1998.

Anti-social Behaviour Injunctions

Social landlords (local authorities, housing action trusts, registered social landlords and other charitable housing trusts) have the power to apply for injunctions to prohibit antisocial conduct that adversely affects, whether directly or indirectly, its housing management functions

Applicant

A person who makes an application, for example where a party applies to the court to have a possession order set aside.

Appellant

A person who appeals against a case in civil proceedings.

Applicable amount

The amount of money the Government considers that a household needs to live on each week. It is the the total of personal allowances and additional amounts (or premiums), and will vary according to the circumstances of a claimant. The figure is used to calculate a claimant's entitlement to many benefits, including housing benefit.

Arrangement fees

Fees that some lenders charge for arranging a mortgage or other loan. Some lenders will refund the fee when the loan or mortgage is agreed.

Assignment

Assignment is the transfer of the assignor's legal interest in a property to another person, known as the assignee. Both landlords and tenants can make assignments. When a tenant assigns, her/his legal interest in the property is passed on to the assignee who takes over that interest and becomes the tenant.

Assisted party or assisted person

This term is used to indicate a person who has been granted legal aid, also known as public funding, from the Legal Services Commission.

Assured shorthold tenancy

A form of assured tenancy, which gives landlords an absolute right to repossession after a fixed term under the shorthold ground. It was introduced by the Housing Act 1988 and is now the default tenancy for most dwellings in England and Wales. It is the most common tenancy granted in the private rental sector but some tenants of registered providers of social housing (formerly registered social landlords) may also be granted this type of tenancy. It gives limited security of tenure to tenants in such the landlord has the right to terminate the tenancy by using a 'section 21 notice'.

Assured tenancy

A type of tenancy that some private tenants and most housing association tenants have. It gives fairly strong security of tenure to tenants.

Asylum seekers

An asylum seeker is a person who is seeking refugee status and claims that it would be contrary to the UK's obligations under the Geneva Convention to remove her/him from, or require her/him to leave the UK and return to the country from which s/he came as s/he would be at risk of persecution for reasons of race, nationality, membership of a particular group or political opinion.

Asylum support adjudications

The tribunal that hears appeals against decisions of UKVI to refuse or withdraw asylum support under sections 4 or 95 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. The judge is called an Asylum Support Adjudicator (ASA). There is no appeal to the ASA in relation to a decision made under section 55 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 or in relation to the type or level of support.

Attorney General

The chief legal adviser to the Government, principal law officer of the Crown, and head of the Bar of England and Wales.