Real Estate Glossary U [Part 1]

Terms Beginning With - U

Property Development & Investment Glossary, Terms & Definitions

U bolt

A bent iron bar that is formed like a “U” and has bolts and threads on both ends.

U stirrup

A steel bar loop with an open top that is used as reinforcement against diagonal tension in a beam.

U.S. Department of housing and urban development (HUD)

A government organization that manages funding for housing-related UBC (Uniform Building Code) projects.

U.S. Geological survey (USGS)

A division of the United States Department of the Interior responsible for conservation, geological surveys, and mapping of U.S. lands.

U.S. League of savings associations

America’s Community Bankers was the previous name for a national trade association for savings and loan associations and cooperative banks.


Income from Unrelated Business. A tax levied on the income of normally non-taxable companies for certain categories of income.


The US Uniform Commercial Code, the universal law enacted in all 50 US states and the District of Columbia (with minor local differences), controls the creation, perfection, priority, and enforcement of Security interests in most types of US personal property, among other things.

UCC1 Statement

The Uniform Commercial Code lists this mortgage document as one of the common ones.


The Uniform Consumer Credit Code is what everyone in the country has to follow. A law made by the federal government to make sure that all credit providers are the same. For example, all loan agreements must now be written in the same way because of the act. When someone takes out a loan, they are legally obligated to pay all fees and charges that are part of the deal.

UF cable

Feeder Cable Underground.

UHF cable

A cable made for extremely high frequencies.

Ultimate compressive strength

The force at which a substance breaks.

Ultimate load

The exact maximum amount of weight that a structure can support before ultimately failing.

Ultimate strength

The strongest that a substance is capable of developing.

Ultra vires

Describes what a corporation can and can’t do, based on what its articles of incorporation say.

Umbrella partnership REIT (UPREIT)

A business structure in which a publicly traded REIT owns a portion of an operational partnership, which owns all or part of individual property partnerships.

Unauthorised unit trust

An unregulated unit trust that is solely available to institutional investors.

Unbalanced improvement

A change that does not serve the site’s highest and best interests. An over-improvement or a deficiency could be the result of this change.

Unbuffed End

A factory-cut, untrimmed serrated end.


An environment with an unknown number of alternative outcomes, with no substantial knowledge about the relative likelihood of each.


A legal doctrine in which a court refuses to enforce a contract that was grossly unfair or unscrupulous at the time it was signed; a contract that offends the public conscience. According to the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, courts may refuse to enforce an unconscionable rental agreement in its entirety or in part. Unconscionable contracts are explicitly deemed unenforceable by the Uniform Commercial Code.


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Under improvement

A development that, due to its inadequate size or cost, is not the highest and best use of the site. Typically, a structure that is less expensive, of lower quality, and smaller than typical neighborhood properties; for example, a single-family home in a zoned area for six-unit dwellings.

Improvements that, because of their size or value, produce a lower residual land value than larger or more valuable improvements could have produced on the same site; Site that has not been improved to its highest and best use.

Under-floor ducts

Commercial office buildings benefit from the flexibility provided by floor channels for the placement of necessary telephone and electrical lines.


Inadequate capital for efficient operation.


A coating layer applied as a prep before painting. Also referred to as the primer or prime coat.

Underfloor duct

A metal pipe, either round or rectangular, used to transmit warm air from a heating or cooling system under a wood floor structure or in concrete.

Underground plumbing

Plumbing drains and waste pipes are set up beneath the basement floor.

Underground storage tanks (USTS)

A tank and any underground pipes that connect to the tank and have at least 10% of their volume below the ground. These steel tanks were used to store oil and other dangerous substances. Many are leaking, which pollutes the groundwater. The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendment Act, and the Superfund Amendment and Reauthorization Act are all laws that have to do with regulating USTs (SARA). The Leaking Underground Storage Tanks (LUSTs) Trust Fund was set up to pay for cleanups at sites where the owner is unknown, unwilling to respond, or unable to do so.


A thin layer that has been inserted beneath the carpet to give a comfortable surface, decrease wear, and provide a smooth surface. It can also be utilised to insulate moisture, heat, and sound.


A second water-resistant layer that is positioned underneath the roof shingles.

Underlying cost

Any expenses that could be anticipated throughout the upcoming budgetary period. Underlying costs are expenses that the business anticipates incurring within the budgetary term.

Underlying financing

A mortgage or trust deed that has priority over subsequent liens on the same property, such as contracts for deed or mortgages. A broker should review the terms of any financing documents affecting the property prior to listing it, paying particular attention to any prepayment penalty clauses.


The procedure of bolstering a building’s or other structure’s foundation.


The individual whose signature appears at the end of a document; the subscriber.

Undertakings for collective investment in transferable securities or UCIT

Retail collective investment funds created in accordance with European Union directives and authorised to operate freely throughout the EU by a single member state. In actuality, many EU member countries have added additional regulatory measures that have hampered free operation while shielding domestic asset managers. They are comparable to mutual funds in many ways.


A person who occupies property under an existing tenant, as in a sublease; a subtenant.

Underwater loan

A term indicating that the loan balance is greater than what the property can be sold for. This may be the case if the loan’s collateral has depreciated, or if the borrower initially over-collateralized the loan.

Underwater mortgage

A mortgage taken out to buy a home that has an amount greater than the home’s fair market value.


  1. In insurance, a person who selects risks to be solicited and then assesses the acceptability of those risks. For example, a local title company typically purchases insurance from a larger title company (the underwriter) to cover all or a portion of the liability associated with the policies it originates.

  2. As applied to real property securities, a person who has purchased securities from the issuer with the intent to sell or distribute them, or who actually sells or distributes the securities on behalf of the issuer.

For instance, if a syndicator hires a securities firm to sell its limited partnership units, the securities firm is an underwriter. Underwriters may be required to register with their state and/or the Securities and Exchange Commission as underwriters or broker-dealers.

  1. A lender employee responsible for reviewing loan applications and making recommendations to the loan committee.

A person or company in charge of coordinating the process of raising funds from investors.

Underwriters’ laboratories

A testing organization that performs evaluations of specific electrical equipment and checks individual parts for potential safety issues.


The evaluation of the level of risk associated with a loan. Underwriting a loan encompasses the entire process of preparing the loan’s terms, determining the borrower’s ability to repay, and then deciding whether to approve the loan.

Undisclosed agency

A situation in which an agent deals with a third party without disclosing their agency. Even if instructed not to disclose the client’s name, the agent must still indicate agency status. Otherwise, agents who sign a contract under their own names without disclosing their agency are fully liable for any breach or failure to perform. To avoid liability, brokers must disclose their agency relationship on the contract, making it clear that all parties intended to bind not only the agent but also the principal.

Undistributed taxable income

Income received by a S corporation that is taxed as part of the shareholders’ income despite not being distributed to the shareholders. (For more information, see S corporation.)

Undivided interest

The co-ownership interest that entitles the co-owner to joint possession of the entire property with the other co-owners. The undivided interests may be equal, as in a joint tenancy, or they may be unequal, as in a tenancy in common. No owner has rights to any particular portion of the whole. Therefore, each individual owns a fractional share of the entire parcel, not a specific portion. For instance, if Julio owned a nine-tenths undivided interest in a 10-acre parcel of land, he would not own nine acres because all owners with undivided interests have the right to full possession. In other words, the land is not physically divided among the co-owners.

A cotenant cannot transfer or encumber a portion of the property. A co-owner must petition the court for a partition or division of the property in order to acquire the right to a specific portion of the property.

According to their percentage of common interest, condominium owners have a specific undivided interest in the common areas. There is no limit on the number of individuals who may jointly own real property.

Each co-owner has a distinct economic interest in a property. Thus, if part of the parcel is arid and part is fertile, it is unlikely that a court would divide the property into equal geographic areas in a partition action.

The Uniform Land Sales Practices Act regulates the mass marketing of undivided interests in land, which includes the sale of undivided interests. For instance, if a developer sells a 1215 tenancy in common on a large parcel of land, this could be interpreted as an attempt to circumvent the subdivision registration law.

An ownership right to share a property’s use and possession with others.

Undue influence

Persuasion strong enough to completely overpower another’s free will and prevent that person from acting intelligently and voluntarily, as in a case where a broker guilty of blockbusting has induced someone to sell in fear of a change in the racial character of the community. A close or confidential relationship, such as parent-child, broker-seller, attorney-client, or trustee-beneficiary, is usually required for undue influence. A person who has been unduly influenced to sign a contract has the right to cancel the contract.

Unearned income

Earnings derived from sources besides personal services. This tax category would apply to rents, dividends, and royalties, but not to wages, tips, or commissions.

Unearned increment

An increase in the value of real property caused by factors beyond the property owner’s control, such as a favorable rezoning or a favorable population shift in the neighborhood.


When a qualified worker or professional looking for work is unable to obtain employment, unemployment results.

Unencumbered property

A legal doctrine in which a court refuses to enforce a contract that was grossly unfair or unscrupulous at the time it was signed; a contract that offends the public conscience. According to the Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, courts may refuse to enforce an unconscionable rental agreement in its entirety or in part. Unconscionable contracts are explicitly deemed unenforceable by the Uniform Commercial Code.

Free and clear ownership to the property.

A piece of property that is unencumbered by liens or demands from creditors. Assets without encumbrances are more simpler to sell or transfer than those that do.

Property that has no liens on it is said to be unencumbered.

Unenforceable contract

A contract that was valid at the time it was signed, but cannot be proven or enforced by a court. In order for a contract to be unenforceable, it must be invalid or void. Contracts that fail to meet state statutes of frauds or statutes of limitations may be unenforceable because they are not in writing or because the statute of limitations period has expired. Even so, the contract can be used as proof of an existing debt in some circumstances. It is also possible that some government contracts are not enforceable against the government; that is, they can be enforced to the extent that they are permitted by the government.


Lacking moral principles; not following a set of rules for how to act. Most state licensing laws have a code of conduct that real estate agents must follow. If they don’t, they can lose their licenses.

Unfaced insulation

An insulation blanket made of fibreglass without a vapour barrier.

Unfair and deceptive practices

In violation of the Federal Trade Commission’s regulations are non-deceptive sales practices that are nonetheless unlawful (FTC). A sales practice is unfair if it violates public policy, is immoral, unethical, oppressive, or shady, or if it harms consumers. This concept encompasses practices such as inducing purchases through intimidation and scare tactics, product substitution, and the unlawful refusal to return deposits or refunds.

The FTC has the authority to prohibit unfair and deceptive practices, file complaints and pursue prosecution, issue cease-and-desist orders, and levy fines.

Unfavorable financial leverage

Borrowed funds are used when the cost of borrowing exceeds the rate of return on the assets being financed.

Unfinished office space

Space in a “shell” condition, devoid of dividing walls, ceiling, lighting, air conditioning, and the like. Typically, when leasing unfinished office space, the landlord provides standard office furnishings and/or a construction allowance.

Uniform and model acts

Individual state legislative proposals. The National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws has approved these uniform laws, and many have been adopted by one or more states. Uniform Condominium Act, Uniform Consumer Credit Code, Uniform Fraudulent Conveyances Act, Uniform Land Sales Practices Act, Uniform Land Transactions Act, Uniform Partnership Act, Uniform Real Estate Time-Share Act, and Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act are a few examples.

Uniform appraisal dataset (UAD)

A standardized form that specifies all required fields for specific evaluation forms and standardized definitions and responses for a key subset of required fields. As of September 1, 2011, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) requires the form for all appraisals submitted to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Uniform building code (UBC)

The International Conference of Building Officials’ national code, which is mostly used in the western states. It was adopted in part by over 1,000 municipalities across the United States, but it is now being phased out in favor of the International Code Council’s codes.

Uniform commercial code (UCC)

A body of law that seeks to codify and standardize across the nation all laws pertaining to commercial transactions, such as conditional sales contracts, pledges, and chattel mortgages. The UCC also covers transactions involving personal property, such as negotiable securities and commercial paper.

Fixtures, which are addressed in Section 9 of the UCC, have the most bearing on real property under the UCC. When a personal property is acquired on credit or pledged as collateral, a security interest is created in the personal property through the execution of a security agreement. Instead of recording the agreement, the creditor files a financing statement with the recorder. If the financing statement has been properly recorded, the creditor may repossess and remove the chattel upon default.

A body of laws governing business dealings in the US that have been ratified by all 50 states to promote fairness and uniformity in business dealings.

Uniform commercial-industrial appraisal report (UCIAR)

A standard form for commercial and industrial property appraisal reports.

Uniform electronics act (UETA)

A uniform model law suggested by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws that lets documents and signatures be sent by email or fax without having to be attached to a paper document. UETA made rules for electronic signatures and lets a notary public and other authorized officers act electronically, without using a stamp or seal. All parties must agree to do the deal over the Internet.

Uniform land transactions act (ULTA)

The National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws proposed a uniform model law that covers a wide range of real estate transactions, including sales, conveyances, mortgages, and leases. The law has not yet gained widespread acceptance. One of the more significant financing proposals advocates for the abolition of the current distinctions between mortgages, trust deeds, and contracts for deed.

Uniform limited partnership act (ULPA)

A model legislation that has been passed (in some cases, extensively altered) by every state except Louisiana to govern the formation and operation of limited partnership entities.

Numerous states have adopted, in whole or in part, a model act that establishes the legality of the limited partnership form of ownership and allows real estate to be held in the name of the limited partnership.

Uniform partnership act (UPA)

Adopted in whole or in part by the majority of states, this act establishes the legality of the partnership form of ownership and allows real estate to be held in the name of the partnership.


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Uniform residential appraisal report (URAR) (form 1004)

In addition to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, this form has been adopted by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Farmers Home Administration since May 1, 1987.

A document used to evaluate single-family homes.

Uniform residential landlord and tenant act (URLTA)

Residential leases are regulated by a single law that aims to provide some degree of uniformity in the relationship between the landlord and the tenant. The Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act or similar legislation has been adopted by a number of states.

Agreements for renting out a property: If a lease or rental agreement does not specify otherwise, the act treats the tenant as having a periodic tenancy. Any written rental agreement signed by the landlord or tenant is accepted by the other party if they pay rent or accept rent without objecting to it, even if that other party does not sign it. Rental values are determined by the fair market value of the unit if no rent has been agreed upon. Tenants must agree to waive their rights and remedies under the act, authorize anyone to confess judgment on a rental agreement claim, or pay the landlord’s attorney fees in order to enter into a rental agreement. It is possible for a rental agreement to limit the landlord’s liability for fire, theft, or breakage in the common areas, but the tenant does not have to agree to this limitation. In the event of a legal dispute between a landlord and a tenant, the court has the power to refuse to enforce an agreement, or any portion thereof, that it deems unconscionable.

Property condition: The lessor and lessee must make a joint inventory of the premises and any furnishings or appliances provided by the landlord within five days of the tenant’s move-in date. Each party must receive a copy of this document that has been signed in its entirety.

Deposits are required for security. In unfurnished units, the maximum security deposit the landlord can receive is one month’s rent; in furnished units, the maximum security deposit is one and one-half months’ rent. However, a pet fee of half a month’s rent may be required in either a furnished or unfurnished unit. The deposit can be used to cover any unpaid rent or damages to the property when the tenancy ends. The tenant must be given a list of all the damages, and any money left over must be given back to the tenant within the time frame set by the act. If the landlord doesn’t return the deposit, the tenant can get the money back, plus damages equal to one and a half times the amount wrongfully kept, plus reasonable attorney fees. No part of the security deposit can be taken out of the last month’s rent by the tenant. If a tenant does this, the landlord can get the rent back as if the security deposit hadn’t been taken out.

How to use the land: The landlord can set rules about how the property is used and who can live there, as long as those rules apply to everyone. Any rule added later that changes the rental agreement in a big way can only be used against the tenant if the tenant signs it. Unless something else is agreed upon, the tenant can only use the space as a place to live. The tenant can’t make it hard for the landlord to get into the property without a good reason.

What a landlord has to do: After giving reasonable notice, the landlord can enter the property at reasonable times to check on the unit, make any needed repairs or improvements, provide service, or show the unit to potential buyers or tenants. The only time the landlord can come in without the tenant’s permission is in a true emergency.

The landlord is responsible for making any repairs that are needed to keep the place fit for living. This means that he or she must follow local building and housing codes and provide and keep in good working condition all electrical, heating, plumbing, and similar systems, as well as other facilities and appliances (like elevators) that he or she provides. The landlord must also take care of the common areas and provide trash cans and trash cans. The landlord must provide running water, a reasonable amount of hot water, and heat during the required months, unless the building is not required by law to have these things, or if the tenant has full control over the water and heat installations. The tenant could, however, agree in writing to pay for any or all utility services.

These landlord duties don’t apply if the tenant can’t follow them because of things the landlord can’t change. If the property is sold, the landlord is no longer responsible for anything after the sale date, except for returning security deposits. So, the new owner takes on the responsibilities and liabilities of the old landlord.

Tenants are responsible for: The tenant must follow local building and housing code rules that affect health and safety, such as keeping the unit clean and safe to live in and getting rid of trash and garbage. The tenant must use all of the plumbing fixtures, elevators, and other facilities that the landlord provides, as well as the electrical, plumbing, heating, and cooling systems, in a reasonable way. The tenant also can’t destroy or damage the property on purpose or let anyone else do it. They also can’t make it hard for neighbors to enjoy the property in peace.

Getting out of the lease: If the tenant is not maintaining the property in a way that is not in line with the rental agreement, the landlord should tell the tenant what the problem is and tell the tenant that the rental agreement will end in 30 days if the tenant does not make a good-faith effort to fix the problem by the time given in the notice.

If the tenant hasn’t paid rent three days after the landlord gives notice, the landlord can end the lease. If the tenant’s noncompliance can be fixed by fixing or replacing damaged items, and if the tenant doesn’t fix or replace the damaged items within a reasonable amount of time after receiving written notice, the landlord can enter the unit, have the work done, and then charge the tenant. The tenant’s belongings are not, however, subject to a lien by the landlord.

If the tenant moves out, the landlord must try to re-rent the unit at a fair price. The tenant has to pay rent until the rental agreement ends or the unit is rented to someone else, whichever comes first. But if the landlord doesn’t try to re-rent the unit or if the landlord accepts the abandonment as a return of the property, the rental agreement is over when the landlord finds out about the abandonment.

If the landlord fails to do his job in a big way, the tenant can also end the rental agreement by giving the landlord 30 days’ notice of a breach of contract, unless the landlord makes a good-faith effort to fix the problem by the end of that time. The tenant also has the right to sue for damages and obtain a court injunction directing the landlord to correct the breach. If the landlord doesn’t follow the rules on purpose, the tenant may also be able to get back reasonable lawyer fees. Whenever a rental agreement is terminated through noncompliance on the landlord’s part, the tenant is always entitled to recover the security deposit and any prepaid rent.

If the landlord willfully fails to deliver possession of the unit, the tenant’s obligation to pay rent stops until possession is delivered. The tenant may either terminate the rental agreement or sue for performance, and obtain possession, reasonable damages, and attorney fees.

If the landlord negligently fails to supply heat, running water, or some other essential service, the tenant may give written notice of the contract breach to the landlord, and the tenant may then take appropriate measures to obtain the services and deduct the cost from rent pay[1]ments (the so-called rent and deduct statutes), sue for damages based on the decrease in the fair rental value of the unit, or procure substitute housing until the breach is remedied. If substitute housing is obtained, the tenant’s obligation for rent ceases during the landlord’s period of non-compliance. The cost of such housing may be recovered, not to exceed the amount of periodic rent, along with reasonable attorney fees, if the tenant files suit against the landlord. When the cost of the necessary repairs is small, and the landlord fails to comply within a reasonable time after written notice has been given, the tenant may have the work performed, present an itemized bill to the landlord, and deduct the cost of repairs from the next rent payment.

If the dwelling unit is damaged or destroyed by fire or other casualty to such extent that enjoyment of the premises is impaired, the tenant may immediately vacate the premises and notify the landlord in writing of the intention to terminate the rental agreement as of the day of vacating. In cases where portions of the dwelling are still habitable, the tenant may vacate the damaged part of the dwelling and any liability for rent is reduced in proportion to the decrease in the fair rental value of the unit.

If the landlord illegally excludes the tenant from the premises or willfully diminishes tenant services, the tenant has the right to either recover possession or terminate the rental agreement. The tenant may also recover reasonable damages and attorney fees.

A landlord is prohibited from increasing the rent or decreasing the services of a tenant who has made a complaint to the landlord or to a governmental agency, or who has joined a tenant’s union.

Exemptions: The Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act would not, however, usually apply in the following situations:

  • A person occupying property under a contract for deed
  • Residence at a public or private institution for the purpose of receiving education, counseling, healthcare, or a similar service
  • Occupancy by a member of a fraternal organization in a structure operated for the benefit of the organization
  • Transient occupancy in a hotel or motel
  • Occupancy by an employee of the landlord, when the employee’s right to occupy is conditional upon his or her employment
  • Occupancy by an owner of a condominium unit or holder of a proprietary lease in a cooperative
  • Agricultural leases
  • Rental of mobile-home lots, unless the landlord also furnishes the mobile home

Uniform settlement statement

The standard RESPA form, called HUD-1, must be given to the borrower, lender, and seller at or before settlement by the settlement agent in a Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act-covered transaction. The copy must be kept by the lender for at least two years.


Continued at…
:point_right: Real Estate Glossary U [Part 2]