City moves on Durban’s real estate signage proliferation.

The city’s weekends of rampant proliferation of estate agent pointer and showhouse boards are numbered pending the introduction of amendments to existing bylaws that are to be extended and made applicable throughout the inner city.

The recommendations tabled will be the restriction of “for sale” and “to let” boards to a single board fronting the property for sale or to let. In addition, pointer boards and “show house” boards are being given consideration for use in a generic form and of a uniform colour at street intersections. These will only be permitted fronting the property on show.

The recommendations are being negotiated with the support of the Institute of Estate Agents and are expected to come into effect within the next four months, Benjamin Ramnarin informed estate agent principals of Network’s Amanzimtoti zone in a Ramdass and Associates recently sponsored workshop on the often-thorny issue. Perceived over use of estate agent signage at weekends has been a major source of public complaints to the council.

The proposed changes have also been welcomed by attorney Shahir Ramdass acting for Network Listings in discussions with council on future outdoor signage policy. Ramdass said a holistic and balanced approach had become vital in changing a system that had become farcical in maintaining local outdoor advertising policies of former councils. Under present structures estate agents between Westville and Hillcrest were governed by four different bylaws. This had led to great frustration and even anger among estate agents in response to fines imposed for illegal advertising.

Ramdass says a clearly defined uniform ruling that applied to all industries would bring much needed transparency and clarity to the confused situation.

Ramnarin, eThekwini’s Acting Manager, Development Control, likening the seriousness of proliferation of signage to the former plastic bag issue, said the council intended the proposed new by laws to be consistently applied across all categories of industries giving equal opportunities to all and taking into consideration public health and safety and general standards of amenities. A prime objective of policies was that the new by-laws be constitutional in not allowing one industry any privileged rights over another.

However, this did not detract from the council’s seriousness in policing illegal usage of its property. Additional inspectors are being recruited to bring the council’s outdoor signage monitoring department up to seven inspectors allowing for monitoring in areas not previously covered. Blitzes were being regularly carried out often resulting in hefty recovery costs for habitual offenders. The current recovery cost of R500 per board, was in Ramnarin’s view too low, but was based on council recovery costs as legislated in terms of 75A of the Municipal Systems Act. Offending boards are disposed if not collected by their owners within a 30-day period of notice.

Of the 12 000 to 15 000 illegal boards recovered by council each month about 20 percent were from the estate agent industry, who were not the worst offenders. The recovery costs were often substantial. In one instance, a supermarket company had a cost of R38 000 attached to its electricity consolidated billing account. Ramnarin said the department had made substantial strides in reducing the proliferation as all fines were attached to the offenders electricity account.

Caption: Pointing to the future (from left) Vinesh Ramdass, Shahir Ramdass (both of Ramdass & Associates) Lillian Roberts (manager Pam Golding Properties Amanzimtoti and Benjamin Ramnarin (eThekwini’s Acting Manager, Development Control).
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