Earlier this month we reported on Belfast council’s decision to open a public consultation on whether To Let boards should be banned from at least some areas of the city - now ARLA has stepped in to give its view.
“Letting agent boards are an important part of the business practices of the industry and clearly allow our members to access new clients and say that they are open for business” according to ARLA managing difrector David Cox.
“Currently in Northern Ireland 19 per cent of individuals live in the private rented sector. This is compared to 17% in the social rented sector and 64 per cent who are owner occupiers. Therefore it is vital that people can access this sector and know that property is available to rent” he says.
“ARLA does not favour banning To Let boards and we would rather see councils work with agents on a voluntary basis, as Reading council has done, to ensure that any changes to the rules or the introduction of schemes are sensitive to the needs of the sector and have a positive impact on agents’ work.”
The consultation has come about after complaints to the council that a glut of To Let signs were going up - and staying up for a long time - in student areas.
In Northern Ireland “To Let” signs are controlled by the Planning (Control of Advertisements) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2015. However, the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) is responsible for the legislation and for making any changes to rules.
There are two options that Belfast council is considering - firstly, restricting the letting boards and having smaller boards with black and white text, set flush or flat to the building for restricted timeframes, or secondly a complete ban of all boards.
The council’s consultation closes on December 9.