‘To let’ board warning to landlords

Members of Dales' Residents Association with (L-R) Julie Prestland from Generation Rent, Cabinet member for housing Cllr Ann O'Byrne and local councillor Laura Robertson-Collins (second from right)

Landlords and letting agents in part of Liverpool warned that enforcement action could be taken if they breach a ban on ‘To let’ boards.

In June 2015, the council introduced a ban in an area of Greenbank, following concerns raised by residents and local ward councillors about the impact it was having on the sustainability of the housing market.

It was estimated there were around 500 boards in the area due to the significant proportion of privately rented accommodation.

The city council wrote to all estate agents and landlords asking them to remove the boards and the vast majority complied, leading to a huge improvement in the streetscape.

However, local residents have recently complained that some agents have begun putting up boards again.

Councillor Frank Hont, Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “We are in contact with letting agents to remind them that boards should not be put up in this area.

“The scheme has worked well and made a big difference, but we are keeping a close eye on the situation and taking action when we are notified by residents about breaches of the ban.”

Greenbank Councillor, Laura Robertson-Collins, who took a motion to council calling for the introduction of the ban, said: “We have had some really good feedback from residents but it is important that we continue to get the message across that boards are not allowed in this area.”

Maggy Read, Co-ordinator of the Dales Residents Association, said: “To Let and Let agreed boards and notices in windows indicate that the properties concerned are rented to students, and it is well known that student houses are at high risk of being burgled. If our student residents are vulnerable we are all vulnerable, and we want to keep our mixed residential community safe.

“Our area looks a great deal more pleasant without the plethora of letting advertisements: this benefits all our residents and local landlords, as it makes our area look like a nice place to live.

“The boards are on outdated way of advertising as agents and landlords use the internet which is where students look for available properties.”

The scheme is backed by student representatives at Liverpool John Moores University and the University of Liverpool.

Aisling Davis, Vice President Community Engagement at Liverpool SU (student union) at JMU said: “We’re very pleased to support and work with Liverpool City Council on their initiative to ban ‘To Let’ signs in the Dales area.

“It not only makes the area a much nicer place for all residents to live in aesthetically, but it also places students less at risk of crime in the area. This particularly relates to theft from their properties as houses with to-let signs in this area are typically marked as ‘student properties’ by having a sign outside their properties stating so. We hope this will make our students feel safer, and their houses more secure in the local area.”

“We’ve watched for a number of years at other cities across the UK who have adopted this approach, particularly in Newcastle and we’re more than happy to work with Liverpool City Council to ensure it’s embedded in areas across the city that are densely populated with students.”

Alex Ferguson, Guild Deputy President (Liverpool University) added: “I think this is a really important scheme. I’ve spoken to students who live in the Smithdown area, and they’ve said how much safer they feel knowing their house isn’t being advertised as a student property.

“This is also important as it will help stop the culture of early letting amongst students. Streets filled with To Let signs make some students feel pressured to rent for the following year early. Just as importantly I think it makes the local community look nicer without all those large signs about.”

The area covered by the zone is bounded by Gainsborough Road (evens side only), Smithdown Road and the railway line and includes:

• Blantyre Road
• Barrington Road
• Claremont Road
• Kenmare Road
• Avondale Road
• Brookdale Road
• Ferndale Road
• Langdale Road
• Borrowdale Road
• Lidderdale Road
• Patterdale Road
• Weardale Road
• Garmoyle Road
• Lawrence Road (part)

If necessary, the council does have the power to apply to the Secretary of State for permission to prohibit the use of boards.