uncollected rent

Uncollected rent or vacancy is subtracted from gross scheduled income. Uncollected rent is an estimate expressed as a percentage then converted to dollars. (See gross scheduled income)

undepreciated capital cost (UCC)

An account which includes the purchase price of all assets belonging to the same class less all CCA accrued over time for that class.

underground storage tanks (USTs)

USTs are commonly used for storing petroleum products, chemicals or process wastes. Sites which use USTs include airports, gas stations, industrial locations and military bases. Over time neglected tanks may leak hazardous substances into the environment, contaminating groundwater. State and federal laws impose strict requirements on landowners where USTs are located to detect and correct leaks to protect groundwater. [EPA Office of Underground Storage Tanks]


A promise given in the course of legal proceedings by a party or his lawyer, generally as a condition to obtaining some concession from the opposite party.


A person who evaluates the risk of default by a mortgage loan applicant, and grants approval or denial of the loan.


The process of evaluating mortgage loan applicant's credit, collateral value and the risks in making a loan.

undisclosed dual agency

A broker may not intend to create a dual agency. However, like any other agency, it may occur unintentionally or inadvertently. Sometimes the cause is carelessness. Other times a salesperson does not fully understand his or her fiduciary responsibilities. Some salespersons lose sight of other responsibilities when they focus intensely on bringing buyers and sellers together. For instance, a salesperson representing the seller might suggest to a buyer that the seller will accept less than the listing price. Or that same salesperson might promise to persuade the seller to accept an offer that is in the buyer's best interests. Giving a buyer any specific advice on how much to offer can lead him or her to believe that the salesperson represents the buyer's interests and is acting as the buyer's advocate.

undivided interest

An ownership right to use and possession of a property that is shared among co-owners, with no one co-owner having exclusive rights to any portion of the property. Compare with "partition." Example: Ten investors form a "tenancy in common" and purchase a 100-acre "tract" of land. Each co-tenant obtains an "undivided interest" in the property. All decisions as to the use and disposition of the land are made collectively by all co-tenants. No one co-tenant may unilaterally mortgage, develop, or sell a portion of the "tract."

undue influence

Strong enough persuasion to completely overpower the free will of another and prevent him or her 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. Undue influence usually requires a close or confidential relationship like parent-child, broker-seller, attorney-client, or trustee-beneficiary. Where a person has been unduly influenced to sign a contract, that person can void the contract.

unearned increment

An increase in the "value" of real estate, unrelated to effort on the part of the owner, often due to an increase in population. Example: Murphy buys a "tract" of land in the country for $2,000 per "acre." As the city grows, the surrounding county begins to develop, with paved highways eventually extended to Murphy's land. Murphy sells the land for $5,000 per acre, realizing an "unearned increment" in value of $3,000 per acre.


Describes a title to a property that is free of liens and any other encumbrances. Also refers to the lack of encumbrances on lease space, such as expansion or renewal rights held by third parties.

unenforceable contract

A contract that was valid when made but either cannot be proved or will not be enforced by a court. An unenforceable contract is not merely one that is void or illegal. A contract may be unenforceable because it is not in writing, as may be required under the state statutes of frauds, or because the statute of limitations period has elapsed.


Unambiguous; clear; having only one possible meaning or interpretation.

Uniform Building Code

A national building code published by the International Conference of Building Officials. It has been adopted in part by municipalities throughout the United States, but used mostly in the western states. (See building code)

Uniform Commercial Code

A codification of commercial law, adopted in most states, that attempts to make uniform all laws relating to commercial transactions, including chattel mortgages and bulk transfers. Security interests in chattels are created by an instrument known as a security agreement. To give notice of the security interest, a financing statement must be recorded. Article 6 of the code regulates bulk transfers--the sale of a business as a whole, including all fixtures, chattels and merchandise.

Uniform Condominium Act (UCA)

Many states have adopted the Uniform Condominium Act (UCA). Under its provisions, a condominium is created and established when the owner of an existing building (or developer of unimproved property) executes and records a declaration of condominium.

Uniform Partnership Act (UPA)

Most states have adopted the "Uniform Partnership Act" (UPA), which permits real estate to be held in the partnership name. The "Uniform Limited Partnership Act" (ULPA) has also been widely adopted. It establishes the legality of the limited partnership entity and provides that realty may be held in the limited partnership's name. Profits and losses are passed through the partnership to each partner, whose individual tax situation determines the tax consequences.

Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (URLTA)

A uniform act intended to provide some consistency in regulating the relationship of landlord and tenant in residential leases. A number of states have adopted all or parts of the URLTA, or have enacted similar legislation.

uniform settlement statement

The standard HUD Form 1 required to be given to the borrower, lender and seller at or before settlement by the settlement agent in a transaction covered under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act. The lender must retain its copy for at least two years.

unilateral contract

A one-sided contract wherein one party makes a promise so as to induce a second party to do something. The second party is not legally bound to perform; however, if the second party does comply, the first party is obligated to keep the promise.

unimproved property

Land that has received no development, construction, or "site" preparation. See "raw land." Example: O'Brien is "subdividing" a "tract" of land and selling lots to investors. In all marketing materials, O'Brien must disclose the fact that the land is "unimproved property" that must receive extensive development before being suitable for urban uses.

unit-in-place method

A technique used by "appraisers" to estimate the "reproduction cost" (new) of a structure. The method involves estimating the cost of producing and installing individual components, such as the foundation, exterior walls, and plumbing. Similar methods include the trade-breakdown method and segregated-costs method. (See cost approach)

unity of ownership

The four unities that are traditionally needed to create a joint tenancy-unity of title, time, interest and possession.

unity of possession

One of the four "unities" required to create a joint tenancy. All joint tenants hold an undivided right to possession. (See joint tenancy, four unities)

universal agent

A person empowered to do anything the principal could do personally. The universal agent's authority to act on behalf of the principal is virtually unlimited.

unlawful detainer action

A legal action that provides a method of evicting a tenant who is in default under the terms of the lease; a summary proceeding to recover possession of property.

unleveraged equity

Direct undivided ownership in real estate that has not been financed using borrowed funds.

unlimited liability

The obligation of an owner to pay his creditors from his personal assets if his company cannot pay its debts. Contrast to limited liability.

unrecorded deed

An "instrument" that transfers "title" from one party ("grantor") to another party ("grantee") without providing public "notice" of change in ownership. "Recording" is essential to protect one's "interest" in "real estate." Example: Uncas purchases a lakefront lot from Upson. At closing, Uncas receives a "deed" but fails to record it at the county courthouse. In the meantime, Upson fraudulently sells the lot to Ustinov. Ustinov's attorney does a "title search" but, because of the "unrecorded deed," does not turn up the sale to Uncas. When Uncas discovers what has occurred, he is forced to pursue legal proceedings against Upson for recovery. Ustinov, who purchased in "good faith," owns the land.

Unruh Civil Rights Act

Forbids discrimination as to sex, race, color, religion, ancestry or national origin in accommodations and business establishments. Under this law there can be no arbitrary eviction, rent increase or withholding of services by virtually any landlord, including the owner of a nonowner-occupied single-family dwelling that is sold or leased for income or gain.


Describes a debt instrument, such as a debenture, that is backed only by the debtor's promise to pay.


First used in building materials, particularly insulation, in the 1970s. Gases leak out of the urea-formaldehyde foam insulation (UFFI) as it hardens and become trapped in the interior of a building.

usable area

The actual office floor area occupied by the tenant. This figure does not reflect area outside the leased premises that can be used in common with other tenants or occupants. Also sometimes used to mean "tenant's area," "gross leasable area," or "leasable area" for industrial and retail space.

useful life

The period of time over which a building is expected to provide a competitive return. "Useful life" provides the basis for allowable "depreciation" deductions on properties acquired prior to 1981. For tax purposes, this was replaced in 1981 by the "accelerated cost recovery system." Example: A property acquired in 1980 has a "depreciable basis" of $100,000 and a "useful life" of 25 years. Using "straight-line depreciation," the owner may deduct $4,000 per year for tax reporting.

use type

Each of the three major commercial property types-office, industrial, and retail-is comprised of multiple use types. Offices can be multi-tenant, single tenant, governmental, or medical. Industrial buildings can be manufacturing, warehouse/distribution, or other. Retail properties can be shopping centers, freestanding, street front, or strip retail.

usufructuary rights

"Interests" that provide for the use of property that belongs to another. Compare with "emblements.‰Û [Example: The owner of land that bounds or contains a natural water channel has a "usufructuary right" to use of the water. The water itself is considered to be held by the public with all "adjacent" property owners holding rights to its use. "Restrictions" on that use vary under state law.

utility easement

Use of another's property for the purpose of laying gas, electric, water, and sewer lines. Example: A property owner grants a utility "easement" to the electric power company to extend power lines to the owner's home.

utility liens

Municipalities often have the right to impose a specific, equitable, involuntary lien on the property of an owner who refuses to pay bills for municipal utility services. (See lien)

utility value

The value in use to an owner-user, which includes a value of amenities attaching to a property; also known as subjective value.