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Sales, lettings and property investment specialists - Distinct Property Consultants
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Sales, lettings and property investment specialists - Distinct Property Consultants

Sarka Naivertova, Managing Director

Sarka Naivertova is the founding owner and Managing Director of Distinct Estate Agents.

Distinct Estate Agents

Sarka’s corporate career in her native Czech republic involved substantial international travel and relocation before settling in the UK in 2004. With 18 years property experience, Sarka eats, sleeps and breathes property including running her own residential property portfolio and sourcing properties for buyers and investors alike. Sarka loves sharing her expertise and is so passionate about delivering the best estate and lettings service, she started her own estate and lettings agency. Sarka understands the professional and personal pressures people experience when moving and the impacts it has on their lives. She also understands pressures companies and their employees go through when relocating. In fact, that one-to-one approach including being a multi-lingual expert is what makes running her own business so fulfilling. There’s nothing more rewarding than the great feeling of doing a fantastic job and helping clients

Frequently Asked Questions:

Are you really an estate agent?

Yes. We are members of The Property Ombudsman (TPO) scheme and follow its Code of Practice. Once you instruct us to sell your property, we will send one of our friendly agents to come round and verify things before we start to promote your property. The legislation that we are subject to makes sure that you are treated fairly and the Office of Fair Trading provides guidance for property sales. You can read it for yourself here.

Why should we choose you other than a local agent?

Zoopla statistics prove 93% of house buyers now use the internet to search for a property (June 14) We aim to be the best modern, effective and affordable estate and letting agent. We are charged to advertise your property on all of the property portals therefore it is essential we do our very best to sell your property.

How long will it take for my property to be marketed?

Your property can be usually be marketed within 48 hours maximum after our friendly agent has visited.

Does it benefit me to have a floor plan?

It certainly does. Rightmove statistics have proved that people searching on listings with a floor plan spend 35% longer on that listing than one without it and the longer we can get people looking at your listing the better the results.

What happens if I do not sell or let my property?

Should your property be on the market longer than expected, we will help you review your options and conduct a full marketing review of your property every 28 days.

We look at everything such as all of your previous viewings and feedback, options to boost your viewings and we will re-evaluate the local market including details of what is selling or letting in the area.

Will I get more money for my property with a high street Estate Agent?

No. We will help you achieve the best possible price. We can help with negotiations (where included in the service) and we judge our success on the basis of achieving the best price for our customers in an efficient and affordable way.

How long will it take to complete the process after my offer is accepted?

Unfortunately there is not a simple answer to this one! Our normal estimate is eight to twelve weeks where mortgage finance is required, however we have had transactions take from 48 hours to several months!

Purchasing your home

Buyers Actions

Your offer to purchase has been accepted!

  • Find and instruct a solicitor
  • Estate Agents send out Particulars of Sale to your Solicitor
  • Inform your Solicitor of any particular points you wish clarifying concerning the Property ie. if you believe the property has been extended let your Solicitor/Conveyancer know so that they can ensure appropriate enquiries are raised of the sellers solicitors
  • Your Solicitor receives the Contract pack from the Sellers solicitor
  • Your Solicitor checks through the Contract documentation and raises any enquiries they feel are necessary with the Sellers solicitors and puts in hand the searches for your property
  • If you are having a mortgage, your mortgage offer will be sent to your Solicitor and they will check through to ensure that the Lenders lending conditions are satisfied
  • Your Solicitor receives your search results and raises any further enquiries that may need to be raised on the search results
  • Your Solicitor will send out a report to you on the property and the search results and your mortgage offer (as applicable) and send out the Contract and other purchase documentation to you in readiness for exchange of contracts
  • Once all of your Solicitors enquiries have been satisfied and any conditions of your Mortgage Lender have been satisfied a completion date will then be agreed by all parties in the chain and you will need to provide your solicitor with payment of a 10% Deposit or such other amount as has been previously agreed
  • CONTRACTS ARE EXCHANGED - the arrangement is now legally binding
  • The Seller continues to insure the Property but you should also make sure that you have buildings insurance in place from exchange of contracts and also place your life insurance on risk from exhange of contracts
  • The Sellers solicitor approves your Solicitors Transfer Deed and provides replies to requisitions on title to enable completion to take place
  • Your Solicitor/Conveyancer submits their Certificate of Title to your Lender to request the drawdown of your mortgage advance
  • Your Solicitor/Conveyancer provides you with a financial completion statement confirming the sum due to them in order to complete the matter and you will need to ensure you pay the relevant sum to your Solicitor and ensure they are in receipt of cleared funds prior to the date of completion

Completing the House Purchase

  • Your Solicitor receives the mortgage advance from your Lender, usually the day before completion is to take place to ensure there are no delays on the day of completion
  • Your Solicitor/Conveyancer pays the purchase price to the Sellers Solicitor by Bank Telegraphic Transfer and the Sellers Solicitor acknowledges receipt by releasing the keys via the Estate Agents who will then release the keys to youYour Solicitor pays any Stamp Duty payable to HMRC and submits a registration application to HM Land Registry to register you as the new owner

What does the seller do?

Sellers Actions

Seller accepts offer!

  • Find and instruct solicitor.
  • Estate agents send out Particulars of Sale.
  • Seller’s solicitor obtains the deeds from the Sellers lender or Seller direct and uses NLIS to apply for up to date copies of the deeds.
  • Sellers solicitor prepares the contract and copies all the title deeds - submits to Buyers solicitor.
  • Sellers solicitor send copies of enquiries raised by the buyers solicitor to his client. On receipt of the answers the solicitor responds to the Buyers solicitor.
  • The Seller meets solicitor to sign the contract in preparation for exchange of contracts.
  • The seller continues to insure the property.
  • Seller's solicitors replies to administrative requisitions and approves the transfer deed prepared by the Buyers solicitor.
  • Seller signs the Transfer deed.
  • Sellers solicitor obtains redemption figure on the Sellers mortgage(s) and obtains estate agents account.
  • Sellers solicitor prepares a financial completion statement which they send to their clients.

Completing the House Sale

  • The Buyers solicitor pays the purchase price to the Sellers solicitor via a Bank Telegraphic Transfer and the Sellers solicitor acknowledges receipt by releasing the keys via the Estate Agent.
  • The Buyers solicitor pays stamp duty and submits the title deeds and transfer to the buyer to HM Land Registry to register the deeds in the buyer’s name.

What happens if things go wrong prior to exchange of contracts, can I claim reimbursement of my costs from the other party?

Until exchange of contracts there is no legally enforceable agreement, you will not be able to claim your costs from the other party.

What does the local search cover?

The local search reveals a specific quantity of information held by the Local Authority about the property e.g. who maintains sewers and roads, breaches of planning law and planning history of which the local authority is aware, road widening schemes. The search however does not deal with any structural matters or other surrounding properties.

Can the same solicitors act for Buyer/Seller in the transaction?

In most cases this is not possible - this is to protect you from any potential conflict of interest and is forbidden by the Law Society’s code of conduct.

In some cases where both buyer and seller are existing clients of the firm, the solicitors may be able to act.

Does there have to be a gap between exchange and completion?

In 99% of cases yes – this is mostly to obtain funds from a mortgage lender and deal with formalities. Exchange of contracts is the first time there is actually a binding contract for you to buy or sell a property. If you exchange and complete on the same day there is always the risk that things might fall through at the last minute - this is obviously far from desirable.

How long do we need between exchange and completion?

We never recommend less than a week.

When I sell my house how soon do we get money due to us after completion?

Provided you have signed the Transfer Deed (which transfers legal title to your buyer) a cheque will usually be sent by your solicitor on the day of completion. A telegraphic transfer to your bank of cleared funds may be possible but a small charge is made for this.

When I buy my house when do you need my deposit and how much do you need?

Your solicitor will need cleared funds to be able to exchange, this means a bankers draft, cash or telegraphic transfer. If you give a cheque seven days clearance is required. On exchange your solicitor will usually need 10% of the purchase price unless you are borrowing more than 90% of the value of the property.

Landlords - A simple step by step guide

If you are a homeowner who is forced to move but are unable to find a buyer for your property then becoming a landlord is one possibility.

This is what you need to do:

1. Contact letting agents to find out what rent you can expect and how much demand there is. If you want the best price, be prepared to meet a shortlist of agents at the property as it is difficult to get an accurate rental assessment over the phone.

2. Use an agent who belongs to a professional body. They have to meet and adhere to a range of strict rules/guidelines, including keeping monies in a separate bonded account. Agents who are not members of a professional body may not!

3. Allow for the costs of preparing your home for renting, maintenance and tax on any profits, as well as agent’s fees of around half the 1st months rent to find the tenant.

4. Decide if you have the time to handle tenant demands, if not ask your agent to manage the property for you. You will need to allow costs of a further 10%-15% on average for this.

5. If you decide to go it alone, consider joining the National Landlords Association, which helps and advises private landlords.

6. Before letting out your home, you must get a Gas Safe gas safety certificate for gas appliances and have the wiring checked by an electrician. You will also need a smoke alarm and to fix anything that is unsafe around the home.

7. Make the property clean, tidy and attractive as this will help rent it out quicker.

8. Use a standard tenancy agreement which in most cases is an Assured Shorthold Tenancy. This covers the rent, the term of the tenancy, who it is let to and any conditions you want to lay down, such as no smoking and no pets. Don’t fill it with restrictions that will make your home hard to rent. These agreements are usually for six months although can be a year with a break clause after six months allowing the tenant to give notice after this time. The notice period is typically two months.

9. Go out of your way to keep your tenant happy as a happy tenant is usually a good one!

10. By law, you now have to protect the tenant’s deposit, which is usually six weeks rent, in a government-approved scheme such as the Tenancy Deposit Scheme used by letting agents or mydeposits, available through the NLA. The money is ring-fenced in a separate account, or you can buy an insurance policy from the NLA to guarantee it and look after the money yourself. Deposits are the biggest cause of disputes between landlords and tenants and The Tenancy Deposit Scheme includes an independent dispute resolution service.

11. You must have an Energy Performance Certificate, showing how energy efficient your home is. This costs between £60 - £200, depending where you live.

12. An inventory of everything in the property must be prepared and its condition, such as stains on the carpet or marks on walls. Take photographs as proof as this is another contentious issue when tenants leave. You can use an independent service if you don’t want to do it yourself. This can cost from £75 for a one-bedroomed flat through an independent inventory company.

13. You don’t need to furnish the property to let it. But if you do, the furniture must be fireproof. The rent is broadly the same whether the property is furnished or unfurnished.

14. You must tell your mortgage lender that you are letting out your home, otherwise you be in breach of contract with your lender. Your lender may increase your interest rate or insist you move to a buy-to-let loan. There is no hard and fast rule – your lender may even leave your mortgage as it is. Do check. If you do have to move to a buy-to-let loan, rates are usually slightly higher and you normally need to own 25-30% of your home’s value and pay a fee.

15. You must also tell your insurer that you are letting out your property, otherwise you will invalidate your insurance. Tenants should still insure their own possessions, but your policy should cover the building and your contents.

16. Finally don’t forget you will be taxed on any profit you make from letting but you can deduct mortgage interest, fees, maintenance costs, service charges and depreciation of furniture, fixtures and fittings.

Is your property in a "lettable" condition?

  • Well decorated
  • Clean
  • All maintenance issues resolved
  • Gas safety test carried out and certificate obtained

Furnished, part-furnished or unfurnished?

  • Unfurnished - The only items expected in an unfurnished property are carpets/flooring, curtains, light fittings, cooker, fridge freezer & washing machine
  • Part furnished – As unfurnished with some additional items of furniture e.g. table & chairs, beds, sofa etc
  • Furnished - White goods and all bulk items of furniture such as sofa's, beds, wardrobes, chest of drawers, table, chairs, coffee tables, etc
  • Unfurnished properties reduced possible maintenance issues and limit the landlord’s liabilities however in some areas, there is a shortage of furnished properties and good demand.

Term of the Tenancy

Do you want the tenancy to be for 6 or 12 months? Most Landlords start with a 6 month tenancy and see how it goes as it gives you the flexibility to change if you are unhappy with the Tenants etc.

Top five tips on how to avoid bad tenants

The best way to avoid having tenant problems is not to allow a bad tenant to rent your property in the first place. Here are a few ways to help you do this:

1. Check expenditure versus income via three months of bank statements

2. Watch out for forged references, passports or driving licences

3. Make sure work references are valid – for example, ring the company switchboard rather than ringing a direct dial to make sure you're speaking to the person you think you are

4. Research a tenant's rental history thoroughly

5. Closely match pay day with the rent due date

How to handle difficult tenants

Make sure you earn a decent return on your rental property by dealing promptly with problem tenants.

When all goes well, a buy-to-let property can make a great investment. While you need to maintain the property well, you can earn a decent return by providing a roof over someone else's head - as long as you have bought wisely, seen above-average capital growth and have good tenants.

Most landlords will tell you the average tenant is decent and trustworthy. Horror stories of cruel landlords and bad tenants are, fortunately, still relatively rare. However, for any landlord, a problem tenant can rapidly turn into a nightmare one - and can even devastate your investment if things turn out for the worst.

Anecdotal landlords' experience suggests it seems to happen in as often as one in five tenancies. So if you own a property for a typical 15-to 20-year period and your tenants stay for the average 19 months according to the Association of Residential Letting Agents, it's likely that during your ownership you will experience at least two bad tenants. Knowing how to deal with them before problems arise is therefore an essential part of a landlord's arsenal.

Tenant problems can range from the relatively trivial, such as stains to the carpet, through to criminal activity, such as setting up cannabis factories. According to the Association of Chief Police Officers in England and Wales and the other regions, "increasing numbers of farms are being detected; 7,865 in 2011/12 compared to the 2007/8 baseline of 3,032". Damage from cannabis factories can cost tens of thousands of pounds to repair and not all insurance companies cover landlords for this or other malicious damage.

However, the main problem landlords face is tenants failing to pay the rent – either on time, or at all. According to LSL, a leading provider of residential property services, while the number of tenants in arrears is falling, there are still 67,000 tenants who are more than two months behind on their rent.

So if it happens to you, what should you do? Paul Shamplina, the founder of Landlord Action, a company that helps landlords to evict tenants safely and legally, says non-payment of rent is something a landlord should "jump on straightaway".

He explains: "You can't go round to the property and make any threats but you should ring the tenant the day after you haven't received your money on the due date set out in the contract. If you don't get an answer, then it's a matter of emailing, using the 'delivery and read receipt' button to prove they received your message. If they don't contact you, then advise the tenant in writing you will be visiting the property to meet and discuss the problem."

But Mary Latham, one of the most experienced landlords in the UK, having spent 42 years in the business, sounds a note of caution: "Just because you haven't received your rent, doesn't mean it is the tenant's fault. There may be a problem at the bank, their salary may not have been paid, there may have been a change in their personal circumstances, or there may be a problem with a benefits claim, so make sure you speak to the tenant first before taking any official action."

Of course, there are many other problems you may encounter regarding troublesome tenants. Shamplina says: "We have managed more than 28,000 tenant eviction cases, and they do include ones for noise issues or just nuisance. These range from one property that was turned into a church with a chicken slaughtered in the front room through to a naturist putting the bins out without any clothes on; and another tenant decided not to pay rent as the house, in their view, was haunted."

For whatever weird, wonderful or more straightforward reason that your tenant turns out to be a problem, the good news for landlords is that something can be done. And if a tenant causes problems for the neighbours, you're actually legally obliged to take steps to solve the problem and, if necessary, to evict the tenant. However, any action you take must be done lawfully.

If you have a problem tenant, your most important step is to assess whether the problem is short-term or a one-off that can easily be solved, or something more serious.

Taking legal action

If it is the latter, then legal action may be required. Do take sound legal advice if you have no previous experience of evicting a tenant; getting the procedure even slightly wrong could cost you a fortune.

There are two ways of evicting a tenant. You can issue either a Section 8, or a Section 21. A Section 8 is typically used when a tenant is in rent arrears, especially if your tenant has only been in the property for a few months. Other reasons might include being a nuisance to neighbours.

A Section 21 is normally employed to guarantee that you can secure the property when you are letting under an assured shorthold tenancy; the chief difference from a Section 8 is that you are under no obligation to give a reason for requiring the property back.

According to Landlord Action, "65% of our cases are straightforward Section 8 rent arrears cases and 35% and growing are accelerated Section 21 cases, where most of the time the tenants are awaiting a court order so they can be re-housed by the local council."

In both Shamplina and Latham's experience, just writing a letter to the tenant including a Section 8 or 21 Notice and advising them that action will be taken is often sufficient to encourage the tenant to leave the property.

A word of warning

But heed this word of warning about issuing notices to tenants: you must ensure you have protected the deposit properly from the start. If you have not both protected the deposit by registering it through the Tenancy Deposit Scheme and also provided, in writing, the correct information about it at time of tenancy renewal, then the judge may refuse your eviction notice.

This was highlighted in two recent legal cases; 'Superstrike Ltd v Rodrigues' and 'Gardner v McCusker', where eviction notices were refused due to incorrect or inaccurate paperwork. In addition, there are initiatives under way to ensure in future all deposits must be protected as of around September and if you have not maintained the property to a legal standard, then you may not have the legal authority to evict your tenant.

Of course, prevention is always better than cure. And to ward off a costly repair bill at the end of a tenancy, ideally you should visit your property every three months (or employ an agent who does) to run two checks: firstly, that the tenant is keeping it in good condition and, secondly, to see if it requires any maintenance.

Shamplina adds: "If you had spent time seeing the properties in the state I have, you'd wish you visited your rentals daily but you can't and every three months is typically considered the ideal inspection period during a tenant's stay. I've seen beautiful homes trashed by tenants, and I've seen homes we've had an awful time evicting people from being left in an immaculate condition, so you just never know which tenants look after the property properly for you."

By visiting regularly, you'll also build a relationship with your tenant and it might provide you with advanced warning of any potential problems that could turn into catastrophes if left unchecked.

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