English Vocabulary for Renting a Flat

Are you moving to an English-speaking country? If so, the chances are you’ll need to arrange rental accommodation. Speaking the English language on arrival may seem like enough of a challenge, but finding and negotiating a place to stay should be high up on your list of priorities.

Avoid what can potentially be a stressful and difficult situation if you’re unfamiliar with how the rental system works by reading and understanding the essential words and phrases below. They are sure to come in useful when browsing the internet, looking in newspapers or on noticeboards in search of that dream property rental!

Renting a flat vocabulary

1. Landlord

When you’re looking for a flat to rent, this is the person you need to impress. A name that sounds quite grand, a landlord is simply someone who owns a building, land, or property that they rent out. It’s also the name given to anyone who owns and runs a pub, as many old pubs used to rent out rooms to lodgers.

2. Roommate

When you’re looking for a flat to rent you’ll often see requests for roommates advertised as well as whole properties. A roommate request simply means that you’ll be renting a room in a house or flat that already has tenants in it. So if you don’t want to share with other people then avoid these. But they’re often the cheapest way to rent and you can make friends this way easily too.

3. Flat

One-room flats are usually the cheapest option as they don’t have a separate living room and bedroom, it’s all in a single open living space. Sometimes there’ll be a bed there, sometimes it will be a sofa bed that folds away. The kitchen area or ‘kitchenette’ may be divided from the main living area, or simply be a counter and cabinets along one wall and the bathroom will be the only separate room.

rent a flat vocabulary

4. Professionals only

Sometimes when people are renting a property they specify it is available to professionals only. By this they mean the property is only available to people who are in full-time, stable employment – so, no students, and no one on government benefits. It might sound like it’s discriminating against students, and stereotyping them as loud and unreliable, but really it’s just a way for a landlord to attract working people who they know can afford the rent.

5. A 1/2 bed or 3/4 bed of 4/5 bed property, etc

When you see a property listed as having 1/2 bedrooms, or similar, it means the property has one or two bedrooms. This means that one of the rooms is actually the living room. So a one-bedroom property with a living room could be used as a two-bedroom place for two people, but it means you’ll have to use the living room as one of the bedrooms. It’s a tactic that some landlords use to make extra money from their properties and a way for you to save on rent if you’re willing to forego having a separate living room area.

6. Furnished/Unfurnished

When you rent a property you need to check whether it will come as furnished or unfurnished, meaning with or without furniture. This information should be featured in whatever listing you are reading and it’s important that you look out for it – falling in love with a flat because of its furniture is all well and good provided it’s not empty the day you move in!

furnished flat

7. Contract

Once you’ve found the flat or house of your dreams you’ll be keen to secure it. This is where contracts come in. Typically lasting 12 months, a contract is a written legal obligation between you (the tenant) and the proprietor (your landlord) which lays out what you can and can’t do in the property, and the minimum time you are expected to stay. Break clauses, usually after six months, are increasingly popular because they allow you to leave the property early without being charged a penalty. A rolling contract is a more flexible arrangement, common in flats, where a tenant needs only give a week or months’ notice prior to leaving.

8. Damage deposit

This is one of the first things that your new landlord will ask for after signing the contract. It is a sum of money – usually six weeks’ rent – that you must pay upfront to safeguard against any damage you cause to the property over your tenure. Unscrupulous landlords are notorious for seeing this deposit as an extra source of income and often find the smallest of complaints for which to charge, or just don’t bother returning it at all. Avoid these tricky situations by taking out Deposit Insurance or insisting that the funds be held by the Deposit Protection Service if you’re in the UK.

Finding rental accommodation can be a time-consuming and stressful process. Don’t leave it to the last minute and don’t lose faith if you don’t get the first place you want – the rental market is a big one and something else is sure to come up that fits the bill. Persevere and you will succeed!