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Councillors to consider legal ban on ‘to let’ boards

Published on 09 February 2016

COUNCILLORS are being asked to consider a plan that would see ‘to let’ boards banned in parts of Leicester.

It follows a consultation, carried out last year, in which people were asked to give their views on the display of ‘to let’ boards in areas around the University of Leicester and De Montfort University.

In some streets around the two universities, ‘to let’ boards can be on display for large parts of the year – almost permanently. Previous consultations have found that this has been of concern to local residents.

People were in favour of the introduction of a voluntary code of practice asking landlords and agents to limit the display of ‘to let’ boards, but many boards are still on display.

There were 150 respondents to the most recent online consultation. Of these, 93 (62 per cent) said they considered the constant display of ‘to let’ boards in their neighbourhoods to be a serious, or very serious, problem.

Ninety-six residents (64 per cent) were in favour of a complete ban on the display of the boards, while 31 favoured the continuation of the voluntary code of practice, which has been in place since November 2013.

A further 21 respondents were not in favour of either option.

The council also received 88 identical letters from landlords, opposing the ban.

Council officers are now proposing to apply to the Government for legal powers to ban the display of the boards, under the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) (England) Regulations 2007.

Councillors who make up the planning and developmental control committee are being advised to authorise the application, and will be considering whether to do so at their meeting on 17 February.

Cllr Piara Singh Clair, assistant city mayor responsible for culture, leisure and sport, said: “We know people were in favour of a voluntary code of practice, but unfortunately only a handful of letting agents have complied with this.

“When these boards are up almost permanently, they can affect the look of a neighbourhood and they’re not serving their proper purpose – instead, they're just acting as unauthorised advertisements for letting agents.

“Many students also use online searches when they’re looking for property these days, so the boards are less important for househunters than they used to be.”

If the ban is brought in, agents and landlords will be able to advertise vacant properties using much smaller internal boards, placed in the window.

Landlords or agents who didn’t comply could quickly be prosecuted, and could face fines on a scale which can go up to £2,500.

If councillors approve the application for a ban, it could be in place within six to 12 months.