A local authority has written to all the estate agents on its patch urging them to stop “senseless competition” as to who can put up the most For Sale and Sold boards. And last night, the agent named as main culprit Connells said it would be ‘refreshing’ its local branch about the regulations.
Gillingham Town Council, in Dorset, said in its letter that it has received “numerous complaints from members of the public” about the number of boards which “have appeared throughout the town on the highway verges with no apparent regard to the safety of pedestrians and other highway users”.
It warned that any unauthorized board will be removed and then stored for the company to collect within seven days.
The letter concluded: “We trust that the senseless competition between some estate agents of trying to display as many For Sale/Sold signboards as possible will cease immediately before further complaints or an accident occurs.”
The local paper reports that boards on council land or affecting highways have been taken down, but at a recent council meeting, Cllr David Walsh said that despite the letter being sent to all the agents in the town, “a minority are continuing to abuse the system”.
He said the matter is now being dealt with by a planning enforcement officer.
He said that the council had also received complains about a “new abuse” – where agents display boards which are not on the actual properties for sale.
Instead, they have arrows on them or an extra sign indicating the number and street of a nearby For Sale property.
These cases have also been referred for enforcement.
Enforcement officer Mark Hitchcott told the local paper that he had so far found two breaches, one of which was not considered harmful to the area.
He would be writing to the other agent to ask them to rectify the situation.
The local paper names a Connells branch, where local branch manager Samuel Paterson defended his policy of using a For Sale board on a home to promote another nearby property.
He told the paper: “I’m doing everything within the law. We are advertising our company in a way that is making us have market share.”
He gave an example of what they do with the signs with the agreement of the initial vendor: “It’s on their land and it has on it the number of what property is for sale. It has the number 39 even though it is on number 4’s land. It has the number 39 therefore it is legal.”
However, last night a Connells spokesperson told EYE: “The branch manager has misunderstood the application of the Town & Country Planning Regulations 2007 in relation to estate agency boards and we will be refreshing his understanding of this and as regards the placement of boards on the premises that they relate to only.
“We have asked our branch manager to immediately arrange for the removal of the offending board and to ensure that this practice is not repeated.”