If you are an owner selling or leasing properties, then placing an advert on the property to highlight its availability is a useful option.

The law on advertisements permits the display of some adverts on the property (subject to certain conditions and restrictions). These can be advertised for the period when it is for sale or to let, without the need to obtain consent from us.

Sections in this guide (click title to view)

1. The regulations for estate agent boards

Property owners or their agents have a right to display ‘for sale’ and ‘to let’ boards. The restrictions that apply to such boards are:

  • Not more than one advertisement, consisting of a single board or two joined boards, is permitted; and where more than one advertisement is displayed, the first to be displayed shall be taken to be the one permitted.
  • No advertisement may be displayed indicating that land or premises have been sold or let, other than by the addition to an existing advertisement of a statement that a sale or letting has been agreed, or that the land or premises have been sold or let, subject to contract.
  • The advertisement shall be removed within 14 days after the completion of a sale or the grant of a tenancy.
  • No advertisement may exceed in area
    (a) where the advertisement relates to residential use or development, 0.5 square metre or, in the case of two joined boards, 0.6 square metre in total
    (b) where the advertisement relates to any other use or development, 2 square metres or, in the case of two joined boards, 2.3 square metres in total.
  • Where the advertisement is displayed on a building, the maximum projection permitted from the face of the building is 1 metre.
  • Illumination is not permitted.
  • No character or symbol on the advertisement may be more than 0.75 metre in height.
  • No part of the advertisement may be higher above ground level than 4.6 metres. In the case of a sale or letting of part only of a building, the lowest level of that part of the building on which display is reasonably practicable.

Estate agent boards must also comply with five ‘standard conditions’ that apply to all outdoor advertisements. They must:

  • be kept clean and tidy
  • be kept in a safe condition
  • have the permission of the owner of the site on which they are displayed. This includes the Highway Authority, if the sign is to be placed on highway land
  • not obscure or hinder the interpretation of official road, rail, waterway or aircraft signs, or otherwise make hazardous the use of these types of transport
  • be removed carefully where so required by the planning authority.

2. Enforcement

Whilst many estate agents comply with the regulations there are some that do not. Common breaches of the regulations include multiple signs being displayed on a single property and also boards being left up long after the completion of a sale or the grant of a tenancy.

As with all illegal advertisements, anyone who displays an estate agent’s board, or knowingly permits someone else to do so, without the consent required for it is acting illegally. It is then immediately open to us as the planning authority to bring a prosecution in the Magistrates’ Court.

Lambeth will usually aim to reach a solution with the advertiser rather than launch a prosecution in the first instance, as described in our enforcement process:

This may involve the swift removal of a board by the estate agent. The continued display of any advertisement after consent has been refused, and any appeal dismissed, may well result in prosecution.

The maximum fine on conviction of an offence is presently £2,500, with an additional daily fine of one-tenth of the maximum penalty on conviction of a continuing offence.

It is illegal to display any advertisement without first obtaining the permission of the owner of the site, or any other person who is entitled to grant permission.

3. Reporting a board that breaches regulations

If you suspect that an estate agent board is being displayed outside of the regulations you can report it to the Planning Enforcement Team.

Use the:

4. Legislation and government advice

The full name of the legislation which controls the display of advertisements is the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) (England) Regulations 2007. The part of this legislation that describes the conditions and limitations applying to estate agents' boards is Schedule 3, Part 1, Class 3A.

The Government has also produced a guidance document that provides advice on the advertisement regulations in general. The section covering estate agents' boards is on page 14 of the document.