One Third of Estate Agents' Signs Illegal

New survey shows that fly-boarding is rife in the area

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An investigation by trading standards officers in the local area has revealed that over a third of estate agents' display boards are illegal.

Following a number of complaints from members of the public about estate agents’ signs outside blocks of flats, Trading Standards Officers from Hounslow Borough, in partnership with other Trading Standards Departments in South West London, investigated the problem earlier this year.

A survey was carried out, and 144 of ‘For Sale’ and ‘To Let’ signs were photographed in the borough. Trading Standards Officers contacted the Estate Agents and Letting Agents concerned to find out if they were entitled to have the signs up, and discovered that 52 (36%) were illegally displayed.

One ‘For Sale’ sign was found on an electricity substation, and another ‘Let By’ sign had been displayed for about 4 years.

42 signs were removed by the agents after Trading Standards Officers contacted them. The agents who did not remove their illegal display boards are being sent warning letters, and could face prosecution.

“Agents must have sales instructions from a vendor, or permission from a landlord with property to let, before advertising boards can be put up,” said Senior Trading Standards Officer, Evelyn Westwood.

“A mass of signs, especially on blocks of flats, are untidy and blot the street scene, and illegal signs give those agents who use them an unfair advantage over those agents who abide by the law.”

The use of illegal signs is contrary to planning regulations [Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) Regulation 1992], which stipulate the number and the size of the boards, and the length of time after a sale or tenancy has been granted that they can be displayed. They are also contrary to Trading Standards law, which makes it a criminal offence to advertise property for sale or to let when this is not the case.

Estate agents must take down a board within two weeks of the property being sold or let and only two boards are allowed per property and they must be displayed back-to-back.

Some of the more reputable local agents are consistently frustrated by the amount of fly-boarding in the area. In addition it is not unknown for rival agents to rip down their competitor's legitimately based signs and replace them with their own. A Chiswick based agent was forced to admit a few years ago that it employed a contractor who was given a list of specific signs to remove.

To report illegal fly-boarding, contact Hounslow Trading Standards on 020 8583 5555 or email

November 1, 2005