Councillors have made a plea for action against the 'forest' of 'nuisance' estate agent signs that are plaguing parts of Reading.
Estate agents are free to advertise homes which are to let or are for sale, but councillors say the sheer number of signs can often proliferate in areas with high amounts of resident turnover, such as the Redlands area of East Reading.
The area is popular with students on short tenancies due to the University of Reading being located there, with the issue particularly stark in Erleigh Road, Addington Road, Blenheim Road and Cardigan Road.
Councillor David McElroy (Green, Redlands) said that there is a 'forest' of estate agent signs in the area, and asked what could be done about it.
The question was answered by Micky Leng (Labour, Whitley), lead councillor for planning, at a full meeting of Reading Borough Council. Cllr Leng said a voluntary agreement between the council and estate agents could be reached, similar to one made back in 2014.
Cllr McElroy pointed out that the situation has declined since then, with cllr Leng replying that estate agent permission to advertise 'to let' signs could be revoked by applying to the government for a 'Regulation 7 Direction' which would remove discretionary consent for such advertising.
The issue of the 'forest' of estate agent signs has also been raised by cllr Will Cross (Labour, Redlands) who called the signage 'a nuisance'.
Cllr Cross conducted an audit, identifying 70 signs, and listed the agents involved and the addresses where they were located.
Cllr Leng praised cllr Cross for his "Columbo style detective work."
Letting and for sale adverts do not require permission, however they do need to comply with rules. Estate agency boards can only put up at the property they relate to, and only one board is allowed per property (one each for flats and HMOs).
Furthermore, boards must be removed within 14 days of a sale or let agreement.
Boards that do not comply with rules -including 'managed by' advertising- are unauthorised, therefore constituting a criminal offence and must be removed.
Cllr Leng said that, following cllr Cross' investigation, officers will send letters reminding estate agencies of their duties in the original agreement made in 2014.
The area covered in the agreement runs from Alexandra Road to Lennox Road in Park ward.
If the council is unsatisfied that estate agents are not complying with the agreement, it can apply for the Regulation 7 Direction from the government.
The rules and regulations for displaying estate agents' boards are set out on the council website.