Local Government North East

Durham City Starts Consultation On Letting Boards

India Cocking
Written by India Cocking

Durham County Council are allowing members of the public, landlords, tenants, and estate agents the opportunity to have their say on how letting boards are displayed in the city centre.

In 2009 Durham Council introduced the non-compulsory Voluntary Code on Letting Boards, which encouraged agents and landlords to be more considerate to the conservation areas of the city when erecting letting boards.

However, the authority has reported a number of complaints each year where boards are displayed in breach of the code. Such complaints can become time consuming and expensive for councils to follow up, with no formal ability to ensure compliance. Durham has reported a particularly high number of complaints in the 2016/17 period. They say they have been left with “no tangible option” other than to consider making an application to the Secretary of State to remove Deemed Consent.

If the consultation is successful all such advertisements would need formal consent, which, in the opinion of the council, improve the character and appearance of the historic city.

A representative of the council said:

“While we understand and appreciate the need for landlords to market their properties, this has to be balanced against the impact that letting boards can have on our beautiful and historic city.

We also believe that to let boards are a minor part of the modern marketing strategy and that most students will locate property via the internet.”

Before any formal decisions are made, the authority has given the public three options to comment on;

Option 1 – continue with the current Voluntary Code

There would be no changes to the way that letting agents and landlords use Lettings Boards and it would require them to voluntarily follow the code. There would be no ability to use formal enforcement action if boards are displayed in breach of the code.

Option 2 – apply for a Regulation 7 with some restriction on letting boards

We would allow the display of some boards but the number and time of display would be restricted. The details of the restrictions would need to be agreed but it would be likely that they would broadly follow the principles of the current Voluntary Code.

This option would allow some proportionate advertising and would enable formal enforcement control where boards were displayed in breach of the Regulation.

Option 3 – apply for a Regulation 7 with a complete ban

We would not permit the display of any Lettings Boards within the defined area, at any time, unless we have granted express consent.

Any unlawful displaying of Lettings Boards could result in formal enforcement proceedings.

A complete ban would be relatively easy to enforce and would result in a consistent approach to all affected agents and landlords.  Other forms of advertising (such as window vinyls) would be excluded from control.

To learn more about the consultation proposed by Durham County Council and to have your say visit: http://www.durham.gov.uk/article/11158/Lettings-Boards-in-Durham-City-consultation

To keep up to date with news, events, and licensing in Durham visit their Local Authority Network page: https://www.rla.org.uk/lanetwork/partner.shtml?durham-county-council

About the author

India Cocking

India Cocking

India is the Local Government Officer for the RLA. Having completed her degree in International Politics at Aberystwyth University, India is currently working on updating and maintaining the Local Authority Network. This is of importance as it strengthens communication and understanding between landlords, local authorities, and the RLA. India is working towards gathering concise and clear data from all 435 local authorities on their licencing, fees, news, events and contact details.

Before joining the RLA India worked at Martin and Co Lettings Agent in her home town of Derby, the Welsh Assembly, and her local MP, alongside helping her parents run the family buy-to-let business.

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