Maximum fine imposed because firm had four previous convictions
Estate agent Barnard Marcus has been found found guilty at West London Magistrates’ Court of putting up two boards in protected areas.
The firm’s parent company, Sequence UK, was ordered to pay the maximum fine – £2,000 – on each board, and will have to meet Hammersmith & Fulham Council’s costs of £1,855.24 plus a £60 victim surcharge… a total of £5,915.24.
The penalty was imposed by a district judge on March 20 after Barnard Marcus was prosecuted by the council for illegally placing For Sale boards in Gwendwr Road and Barons Court Road, West Kensington.
Estate agents are banned from displaying boards in protected areas, with the council operating a zero-tolerance policy towards rule-breakers.
The judge imposed the maximum fine because the firm had four previous convictions for the same offence.
H&F Council says it has a 100% success rate in prosecuting estate agents who defy its ban, which was imposed with residents' backing to protect the appearance of some of the borough’s most picturesque streets.
Last year the government approved a 10 year extension of the board ban covering conservation areas in Hammersmith and West Kensington, unless the agent has written consent from the council.
The ban on unsightly boards is the longest ever approved in the UK, and covers all properties in the Brook Green, Barons Court and Lakeside/Sinclair/Blythe Road conservation areas.
Bans also apply to the Hammersmith Grove conservation area, and the majority of roads in the conservation areas of Olympia and Avonmore and the Gunter estate, and Harwood Road.
Historically H&F has had a problem with estate agents competing to see who could put up most boards – especially in roads where large Victorian houses have been converted into flats. Consultation with residents revealed that 98% of respondents backed the move to eradicate eyesore signs.
" Intrusive signs are not necessary in the digital age," says H&F Council Deputy Leader Cllr Greg Smith. "The public have backed our board ban to prevent clutter in some of our most attractive streets, and rogue estate agents need to know that we will not hesitate to enforce it.
" Our historic conservation areas have an elegance and charm well worth preserving, and thankfully the majority of responsible estate agents respect that."
The ban followed the practice of some unscrupulous estate agents who left boards up for months on end after a property had been sold or let, simply as a free advert.
The council says if you wish to report an illegal board, email the location to: firstname.lastname@example.org
April 2, 2013