Southwark Council is now fining estate agents up to £100 for not taking down their advertising boards after a property deal has been finished, writes Kirsty Purnell…
The Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) were introduced after residents complained that a glut of signs were making streets look untidy and cluttered.
Under the new procedure, which came into force on February 1, agents have up to two weeks to remove the board after the sale or let is completed.
Those in breach will be issued a warning and a fixed time in which to remove it, before which an FPN will be issued.
Council officers will be following a code of practice which sets out the procedure.
The crack-down will be welcome news to borough residents, after the council received sixteen separate complaints last year about boards being left up much longer than needed.
Cllr Mark Williams, cabinet member for regeneration and new homes, said: “Residents have told us they don’t want to see their streets and estates cluttered with these signs. They look untidy and give a sense of transience, which can be unsettling and create the wrong impression of a community.
“In the past we have responded to individual complaints through our enforcement process, but this can be time consuming and expensive. Implementing this new procedure means any signs left out for too long risk an immediate fine, which we hope will make estate agents think twice before just leaving unnecessary signs up at properties they have sold or let.”
Mark Hayward, Managing Director of the National Association of Estate Agents, welcomed Southwark’s move. “It’s bad practice for estate agents to use ‘for sale’ signs as advertising tools once a property has been sold,” he said. “Currently, agents can leave them up for up to fourteen days once a property has been sold. Those who leave them up for longer, and choose to ignore these planning regulations are in danger of prosecution,” said Mr Hayward.