Estate agents’ ‘To Let’ boards could be banned from some areas of Lincoln, after the government gave the City Council permission to prohibit them. Complaints have been growing as local residents complain about the sheer number of letting signs, and the council has described them as an unsightly ‘eyesore’. The ban could affect areas of Monks Road, Union Road, Waterloo Street and the West End and Sincil Bank areas, some of which are in Lincoln’s historic quarter.
Final plans are due to go before the local council’s executive for approval before it comes into force on April 2019.
Residents say they have seen a large increase in ‘To Let’ boards in certain problem areas with some signs in place for months or even years. The council received 134 public consultation responses, 85 of which called for an outright ban.
Lincoln is a historic city and residents believe the signs look messy and unkept when they are left up for long periods of time, particularly in areas where there is a high turn around of renters.
Council planning officer, Kieron Manning, estimated that in some parts of Lincoln around a quarter of properties displayed To Let boards. He said: “In recent years, the council has witnessed a significant increase in the number of complaints about the proliferation of To Let boards in certain parts of the city. Any letting sign should be a temporary feature, but when signs are left up for too long in areas containing a high number of rental properties, they can begin to dominate the street scene.”
Local estate agents argue the importance of the general public being able to see which properties were available to rent. However, planners disagree, saying that a ban on the signs across five areas of Lincoln should not negatively affect landlords.
Many potential renters and property buyers search online for property using companies such as Rightmove and Zoopla, which offer a wide range of homes across the country. Some people still visit estate agents when looking for a property, using mailing lists and phone alerts which inform them of new properties coming onto the market.
What are the rules on ‘To Let’ signage in areas in which they are allowed?
According to the Town & Country Planning (control of advertisement) Regulations 2007, these rules must be adhered to:
- Only one board per property is allowed.
- The board must adhere to sizing guidelines (no larger than 0.5 square metres or if joined then no more than 2.3 square metres in total).
- It cannot be any higher than 4.6 metres above ground level or 3.6 metres in areas of special control.
- A board announcing a property has been sold or let cannot be put up unless there is a notice saying that the lease is SSTC or says ‘Let Agreed’.
- The sign has to be taken down within 14 days of completion.
- It cannot be illuminated.
The first laws concerning property/business signage date back to 1700 where restrictions were first introduced in London. Local residents found it difficult to walk down the street without walking into offending adverts for bootmakers, pawnbrokers and coopers.
It is not always easy to enforce these signage laws although the penalty charge for breaching them can be up to £1,000. Despite the ‘digital age’, sign boards are still a valuable asset for letting agents, both in marketing individual properties and marketing the estate agent’s business.
If the Lincoln ban comes into effect we will see if the disappearance of boards does actually impact property letting or estate agent businesses. If you’re considering purchasing a Buy to Let property, then always ask a Chartered Surveyor to make sure the property is structurally sound.