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Council imposes 49 fines on agents leaving up 'old' boards

A London council has issued 49 fines to estate and letting agents in the first two months of a crackdown that is backed by the National Association of Estate Agents.

Southwark council launched a scheme on February 1 under which agents could be given £100 Fixed Penalty Notices - the type of fine you get for parking in the wrong place - if they left up boards for unreasonable durations beyond the completion of a sale or completion.

Before the scheme started the managing director of the National Association for Estate Agents, Mark Hayward, said: “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.”

Now the Southwark News website says of the 49 FPNs issued since February 1, 21 have been paid and four appeals have been lodged.

Southwark’s scheme 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 FPN fine can be halved if the payment is made speedily, as with parking fines.

An investigation in 2015 by Southwark trading standards officers discovered that a quarter of estate agents’ boards were “unauthorised” so the council earlier this year wrote to estate and letting agents in the borough informing them that boards 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.

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    When it comes to fines the system is bias to the biggest companies which this type of cost is the cost of doing business so they risk it and it's against competition and fair practice. Let's say Foxtons break regs and gets hit with a £5k max fine and a Landlord/Agent with a £100k turnover who commits the same breach gets hit with the same fine. In that regard the Landlord is hit with 5%/£5k and it stings. Foxtons get's hit with an equivalent cost of £3.76 in comparison. So for the small fry fines do deter but the big boys just carry on.

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