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Could Estate Agent Signage be Banned? Here’s Why We Think it’ll Never Happen

The Sussex Sign Company News and PR from The Sussex Sign Company - Published 07 December 2016 ESTATE AGENT SIGNAGE
It hasnÂ’t been a great month for estate agents, what with the government announcing a ban on tenantsÂ’ letting fees in the Autumn Statement. While this was understandably welcomed by most citizens and homelessness charities across the country, the move triggered a wave of condemnation and despair from estate agents and landlords.

Agents are naturally concerned about any move that harms their bottom line, and landlords are worried that estate agents will seek to pass the costs on to them through higher property management fees, which as yet remain untouched by the government. The change has yet to be formally legislated and is pending a consultation process, but already the estate agent sector has seen a fall in share prices.

London-based Foxtons estate agents lost 13 percent of its value within an hour of the announcement, and this on top of a 23 percent slide since the Brexit referendum. Critics were quick to point out that administrative fees have been banned in Scotland since 2012, a move which the sector then absorbed without any serious problems. Nonetheless, industry blogs and forums were awash with consternation about the future.

Estate agent signage: an uncertain future?

Now, to add to these worries, proposals have emerged from Belfast City Council to ban the ubiquitous “To Let” and “For Sale” signs seen on almost every street in the country. The Council’s proposal is a response to complaints from local residents about the length of time that the signs are displayed and the effect that it has on the visual environment.

Estate agent signs are already regulated by the Planning Regulations (Control of Advertisement) 2015, a planning code which breaks down signs into three groups, each requiring different levels of consent from local planning authorities on behalf of the affected communities.

Nothing is yet set in stone, much like the announced ban on tenants’ lettings fees, and much discussion is likely to follow in the council’s consultation over which is more appropriate – additional restrictions or a blanket ban. Further restrictions may be the more palatable option with the potential to please all stakeholders, and proposals floating around include limits on the size of the signs, the amount of time they can be displayed and a rule that they must be attached flush to the surface of the building, instead of protruding.

Such a set of standards would, however, require continuous enforcement, which could be costly. There could also be additional costs for estate agents in seeking to meet the requirements of the new regulations. An outright ban, by contrast, would immediately lead to a visual improvement in the affected communities, but estate agents would likely require alternative channels for marketing.
Agents are naturally concerned about any move that harms their bottom line

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