Councillors are considering banning ‘To Let’ boards in areas of Leicester specifically those surrounding the University of Leicester and De Monfort University.
The ban is being considered to stop unnecessary build-up of ‘To Let’ boards being left up all year round, which is affecting the overall look of these neighbourhoods.
With these boards being left up all year round they are not serving their true purpose but rather being presented as unauthorised advertisements. This has been an on-going issue during previous consultations and has been a cause for concern to local residents.
Residents were in favour which resulted in landlords and agents being asked to limit their display of ‘To Let’ boards but many failed to comply, resulting in boards still being left on display.
It is argued from Cllr Piara Singh Clair that students are more likely to look for accommodation on the internet, making the boards less relevant compared to how effective they used to be.
During a recent online consultation that comprised of 150 respondents 62% considered the boards within the neighbourhood to be a serious or very serious problem.
64% of the respondents were in favour of putting a ban on ‘To Let’ boards all together 31 were in favour of the continuation of the voluntary code of practice and a further 21 were not in favour of either.
Cllr Sarah Russell had this to say: “People search online now, they’re not needed in the same way they were before. What they actually are, are advertising boards, free advertising for letting agents which isn’t fair on local neighbours. We have controls on other forms of advertising, we need to control this as well”.
The council also received 88 letters opposing the ban from landlords.
Kieran Smillie, a letting sales manager said: “That’s a good 2500 clients we could be losing if the boards were banned, it would have a great affect on ourselves personally. Students, they’ve seen our properties they’re coming into the office, and they are asking if it’s available, so not necessarily all of the enquiries are from the internet”.
Landlord Zak Toomassi mentioned the struggle of modern day letting: “It’s going to make the trade very difficult, which already appears to be a dying trade. The student lettings market is extremely hard at the moment any way, and with how late it’s getting in the year I am finding it hard to rent my property.
He went on to say: “So then taking away part of the advertising for that property is going to make it even more difficult, which makes it a worry with the over heads, the mortgage payments and things like that as well. So having board exposure and actually seeing the property you are going to be renting can be a huge selling point itself especially if it’s well presented.”
A passer by said: “I would just look online if I was looking to let any way, so I see it as a positive thing for the area because it’s beautiful and might as well keep it that way.”
A Student who rents said: “I already knew that they were there, they had already advertised themselves through the university so I didn’t really need to look at the signs as much.”
A non student member of the public who rents had this to say: “It’s easier as a professional to tell what’s a student house and what’s not, because they often say on the sign, so definitely keep them.”
If this ban is approved by councillors, it could be put in place within 6- 12 months. Landlords and estate agents will be able to advertise vacancies using smaller boards placed inside of windows. Failure to comply will result in prosecution and fines of up to £2,500.