Harlow Council call for code of conduct over “blight” of estate agent boards

Politics / Thu 4th Aug 2016 am31 11:10am

Agent BoardsHARLOW Council is calling for estate agents to bring to an end the competitive nature of putting up masses of unauthorised advertising boards along the public highway.

The Council says some public highways in the town are being blighted with “for sale”, “to let”, “sold” and “let by” boards which attracts complaints from residents and estate and letting agents.

With support from local estate and letting agents Guardian Residential Lettings, Howick & Brooker and Ron and Jane Carvin a company employed by estate agents to put up boards, Harlow Council has this week launched the call for all Harlow estate agents to agree to a code of practice. The Council wants the code of practice to cover where boards can go, how long they can stay up for and who is responsible for taking boards down.

Councillor Danny Purton, Portfolio Holder for Environment, said: “All around the town you see masses of boards on the public highway which become semi-permanent advertising signs and they don’t have any consent to be there. These boards are an eyesore and it is a continuing problem in Harlow. The Council has legal enforcement powers it can use, but this can take up resources and lots of staff time, so we would rather come to a voluntary agreement with estate agents first.”

“Especially where you have blocks of flats estate agents are in competition to see how many boards they can put up alongside the road and these just end up being left there for months or longer. It blights the environment, harms the appearance of the town and is a distraction to road users. If boards end up eventually having to be removed or dumped it’s normally Harlow Council who pays for the clean-up bill and the storage and disposal costs. In the modern world of technology estate agents should be reducing the number boards and the length of time they are up. Most communication about homes for sale or rent is now done online and people who are interested in moving can find information easily on the internet.

“I am pleased that as we kick start this campaign we have Guardian Residential Lettings and Howick & Brooker alongside us to target the issue. I am hoping in the next few weeks that we will see the number of unauthorised boards reduce and more estate agents contacting us to agree to adopt good practise. Residents want clean streets and well maintained areas and reducing this particular problem is part of targeting this priority.”

James Howick from Howick & Brooker, said: “We fully support the Council’s initiative, it has been our long term view that random and illegal fly posting of estate agency signs around our town is both a ‘blot on the landscape’ and also very misleading to the general public. If it helps to discourage we would support a total ban until fellow agents respected the planning laws as well as stop spoiling our town’s brilliant landscape with these irresponsible actions.”

Paul Andreotti, Guardian Residential Lettings and Sales, said: “Having a large register of leasehold rental properties in and around the town we have advertised in the way of boards in the past although will be giving this initiative our full support to improve the Harlow landscape. We appreciate that boards can be somewhat of an eyesore and hope that all agents follow suit quickly to ensure that the costs to the council for removal are kept at a minimum so that the community, including ourselves, can benefit. In the past, we have seen agents put up numerous boards on one site, which gives the wrong impression of the area and in fact can put off a potential buyer or tenant as it gives the impression that there is a high turnover of properties in that development. We look forward to all letting and estate agency boards being on legitimate, freehold property sites from this point forward.”

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