|Council action spurs estate agents to remove boards|
Investigation into illegal flyboarding prompts board clearance
Estate agents were sent scurrying into action to remove dozens of sale and letting boards after a warning from Ealing Council's Trading Standards officers.
Trading Standards officers put estate agents on guard following a November audit of “For Sale”, “To Let” and “Let By” signs, which found 65 boards on display across the borough. A second audit in January found that 41 signs (60%) had since been removed and that the remaining 24 signs were legitimate, according to a report on the project, released this week.
The report contains pictures of flyboarding at 1-18 Wilkinson Way, and at a property opposite 283 Acton Lane, both in Chiswick. Photographs show signs from Barnard Marcus, Bushells, Chesterton, Foxtons and Capital Properties.
According to a Council spokesperson, "No Chiswick agents or agents with signs at these two addresses were formally warned although they did receive letters advising them that the council would be monitoring boards across the borough. When our officers went back to check, the signs had been removed. The individual signs were never investigated so we cannot say that the boards were displayed illegally, only that action by Trading Standards prompted them to be removed."
Ealing Council’s cabinet member for environment and transport, Cllr Will Brooks said the investigation was driven by residents’ complaints and the apparent proliferation of display boards in certain parts of the borough.
“Flyboards are an unsightly blight on the local street scene and a tool used by unscrupulous agents as a form of cheap advertising,” Cllr Brooks said.
“The practice gives a misleading impression of the amount of business an agent is turning over in any given area, with the aim of drawing in potential sellers when they are selecting an agent to market their property. The council does not tolerate this kind of behaviour and we will continue to crack down on agents who do the wrong thing.”
The Trading Standards Service Flyboarding Project 2005/2006 report also details the council’s crackdown on flyboarding last April and June, when almost 10 per cent of signs (5 out of 52 audited) were found to be illegal.
That crackdown was part of a co-ordinated survey completed by councils in West London to investigate estate agent flyboarding. The survey found 26 per cent of boards across the region were displayed illegally.
“While we know that flyboarding remains a problem in certain areas across the borough, the problem is significantly worse in other London boroughs,” Cllr Brooks said. “In fact, Ealing returned one of the lowest rates (under 10%) compared to Hammersmith & Fulham (about 15%)."
Flyboarding is a criminal offence under the Trade Descriptions Act and unscrupulous agents have been hit with fines of up to £20,000 in the past.