Ever thought about putting up an illuminated sign to advertise a property for rent? Don’t do it. It might catch the eye, but it would also be in contravention of the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) Regulations 2007. You could find yourself with a Penalty Charge Notice and a rather hefty fine.
The rules and regulations
The snappily titled piece of planning legislation covers all estate and letting agents’ boards. In short, you don’t need planning permission to erect a board providing you stick to these rules:
- Boards may be displayed only on, or within the curtilage of, the property to which they relate.
- Only one board per property. The first to be displayed is the permitted one. If a property comprises multiple flats then a council may allow more than one board, providing the relevant flat number is displayed on each board.
- For residential properties, the maximum size is 0.5 sq. m. For commercial premises, signs can be up to 2 sq. m.
- The maximum projection from a building is 1 metre.
- The maximum height of the highest part of the board is 4.6 metres above the ground, or in a conservation area 3.6 metres.
- No boards may be illuminated.
Finally, and this is the important one:
- Boards indicating that a property has been let must be removed within 14 days of the signing of a tenancy agreement.
Ouch! 14 days isn’t long when you’re juggling a lot of properties. But the timescale is worth knowing because the council can remove your signs if they infringe the rules. It’s also worth noting that you’re not allowed to put up a board indicating that you manage the property – it has to be a to-let sign, anything else needs planning consent.
Red tape with purpose
It may seem like the authorities are getting heavy handed, but their reasoning is sound. A high number of boards clustered together, old deteriorating boards and inappropriately sized ones decrease the attractiveness of an area. They can reduce your chance of finding tenants, and in fact, some councils have made voluntary agreements with letting agents to restrict the numbers of boards erected or to avoid their use at certain times of the year.
It makes sense to be responsible
No one wants to be bogged down by unnecessary red tape, and the rules can be awkward to work with, but enforcement currently isn’t too heavy handed. It is possible that councils could realise they had a potential new revenue source and start prosecuting for the slightest infringements – as some would say they do with parking fines. Faced with that prospect, it’s important that we all do our bit to comply as far as we practically can.
If we don’t, another potential problem rears its head. Some councils may decide to apply for Regulation 7 Directions. That sounds serious and it is. Such a move could allow councils to insist that every single to-let board needed planning consent.
Let’s not go there. Let’s do our bit now.
If you need legal advice about your property rental business, talk to us. Call us anytime on 0333 577 9050.