Estate Agents and Letting Agents Boards
Q. Are there any rules governing estate agents’ boards and the way they are used?
A.There are indeed – courtesy of the snappily-titled Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) (England) Regulations 2007! These lay down pretty stringent requirements with regard to things like size, content, and location. And while provision is made for a degree of local flexibility - in some conservation areas, for example, boards may require specific planning permission or even be banned altogether – those requirements basically apply pretty much everywhere.
In essence, the rules are founded on the principle that the primary function of a board is to advertise the property, not the agent. So, for instance, boards are only supposed to indicate that a property is for sale or that it is sold, subject to contract – on the entirely logical basis that once money has actually changed and the property concerned has a new owner, there is no longer a valid reason to advertise it at all! For the same reason, all boards must be removed within 14 days of completion.
Instead of “Sold, Subject to Contract” (or “STC”), some agents prefer to use the phrase “Sale Agreed” or even “Under Offer,” which basically mean the same thing.
In terms of size, boards must not exceed 0.5 square metres in area, and only one is permitted for each property (or two, if they are fitted back-to-back on a single pole). This applies even where the seller chooses to instruct several different agents - in which case, the first board to be erected is generally regarded as the legal one. Any seller permitting more than one board could be liable for a fine, along with the firms concerned.
The only real exception to the “one board” rule are blocks of flats, where a number of different agents may legitimately be involved in selling separate properties.
Finally, on the issue of location, agents’ boards are required to be wholly within the boundaries of the property concerned. Where this is impossible (for example, in the case of a terraced house fronting directly onto the street), then the board may be attached to the building itself, as long as it is not more than 4.6 metres above ground level, and does not project from the face of the building by more than 1 metre.