News came last week that Newcastle City Council have won the right to ban to-let boards in high density student areas.
The advertising boards will be banned from streets in Jesmond, Sandyford, Heaton, Shieldfield, Spital Tongues and Gosforth, and the Council have given landlords and letting agents until January 2015 to remove all their boards. Those found violating the ban could face a fine of up to £2,500.
To obtain the ban the Council had to apply to the Government for a change in Regulation 7 of the Town and Country Planning act, which governs advertising in public areas. The move makes Newcastle the first major city to enforce such a ban after introducing volunatry codes and accrediatation schemes that failed to manage the problem.
Not all letting agents are pessimistic about the move saying that the streets have become too cluttered and that rogue landlords don’t manage their boards at all and simply leave them up all year round. Other landlords felt that the move was an unfair attack on their business, with one saying he’d only just invested last year in some to-let boards and was hoping that usinhg them would increase his profile with student tenants.
Bruce Haagenson, National Landlords Assocation representative for Newcaste, considers the move heavy handed and described it as ‘using a sledgehammer to crack a nut’. He explained that he thought the directive unfairly targets student areas.
“I can understand that for residents the multitude of boards can be an issue,” he said. “But if you are banning lettings boards, why not ‘For Sale’ boards too? With the property market as it currently is, sales boards are around for quite a long time before a house is sold.
“Also, if these boards are not acceptable in Jesmond, why are they acceptable in the West End? If you are going to introduce this policy it should be right across the city.”
The ban will be enforced in Janaury, and letting agents and landlords will have to apply for consent before putting up advertisements.