A number of local authorities are now serving £100 or £120 fixed penalty notices on estate agents who display For Sale or To Let boards on properties long after a sale has been completed.
London’s Evening Standard newspaper reports that Southwark council is the latest, warning agents in its patch that from February 1 they could be subject to such notices if boards are still up within two weeks of a property being sold or let.
It says this is a bid to satisfy residents who have complained of ‘clutter’ in their streets because of signs left up inappropriately. Similar fines are believed to be in place in parts of Camden and Wandsworth, two other London boroughs.
The Standard quotes the managing director opf the National Association for Estate Agents, Mark Hayward, saying: “It’s bad practice for estate agents to use ‘for sale’ signs as advertising tools once a property has been sold. Currently, agents can leave them up for up to 14 days once a property has been sold. Those agents who leave them up for longer and choose to ignore these planning regulations are in danger of prosecution.”
The process to be implemented in Southwark means any agency leaving a board up beyond the 14 day period would be given a written warning and a period of time to remove the board - failure to abide by this will result in the fixed penalty. The council's £120 fine can be halved if the payment is made speedily, as with parking fines.
The newspaper says an investigation in 2015 by Southwark trading standards officers discovered that a quarter of estate agents’ boards were “unauthorised.”
Southwark council's letter sent out to agents informing them of the new policy states that the board must be on the land or property being sold or let - not on communal gates or gardens.
A residential board cannot exceed 0.5 square metres or 0.6 square metres if two boards are joined together, and all letting must not carry lettering over 75 centimetres high. No board can be placed more than 4.6 metres high.
In addition, no board can be fixed to a listing building.