Estate agents accused of illegal advertising

19 Apr, 2024 - 00:04 0 Views
Estate agents accused of illegal advertising Estate agents advertising in Ward 18.

Suburban

Peter Tanyanyiwa Suburban Reporter

The Borrowdale Ratepayers and Residents Association (BRRA) has warned estate agents operating in Ward 18 against illegal advertising in community spaces saying residents are outraged over the practice.

Residents are concerned over the putting up of road signs on unauthorised locations advertising properties for sale, leading to unsightly and potentially hazardous conditions in the ward.

There has been a proliferation of property sales advertisements and boards giving directions, which not only soil the visual appeal of the neighbourhood but also pose significant traffic and environmental hazards, residents argue.

The excessive placement of these notices and advertising signs, often in multiple sizes and colours at street corners, obstructs the view of motorists navigating busy intersections, raising the risk of accidents.

Following residents’ concerns, the BRRA has called upon all estate agents to immediately cease this illegal practice, emphasising the need for strict adherence to city by-laws governing advertising and property sales.

The association has alerted the Estate Agents Council of Zimbabwe, urging them to rein in their members and ensure they comply with the law.

“We are appealing to all estate agents to desist from this illegal practice that falls short of adherence to city by-laws. They are warned that the random placement of these notices is against the law. We have since written to the statutory body that regulates estate agents, the Estate Agents Council of Zimbabwe, advising them of these illegal practices their members are indulging in. We have asked them to rein in their members and bring them to order. Their failure to act may make them complicit to this bad practise but being an institution of high acclaim, we expect them to flex their muscle on this matter before it goes out of hand,” the BRRA said in a statement.

The residents’ body said the City of Harare has the powers to remove such  unauthorised notices and take appropriate action against the perpetrators. BRRA expressed disappointment at the apparent lack of enforcement of council by-laws.

“The City of Harare has the responsibility of removing these notices as and when they appear and institute appropriate action against the perpetrators. However, it is apparent someone is sleeping on duty and allowing the proliferation of such activities that also tends to diminish the ambience of our neighbourhoods, something residents of this ward are sensitive about,” added the BRRA.

The BRRA bemoaned the misuse of trees as advertising posts by certain service providers, emphasising the detrimental impact this has on the environment and the health of the trees.

The association underscored the need for all advertising activities to align with established procedures outlined in city by-laws, with a clear warning that residents are closely monitoring the situation and prepared to take further action if necessary.

The BRRA’s stance reflects the collective commitment of Ward 18 residents to prioritise public safety and preserve the aesthetic appeal of their neighbourhoods. The association’s proactive engagement with regulatory bodies and local authorities shows its determination to address these issues and uphold the well-being of the community.

The illegal advertising practices by estate agents are not confined to Ward 18 but residents from other wards have also raised similar complaints.

In February, residents of Old Alexandra Park through the Old Alexandra Park Residents Association confronted the Estate Agents Council of Zimbabwe over advertisements classifying the suburb as a commercial centre.

The residents demanded that estate agents should cease misleading advertising of commercial properties in residentially zoned areas.

Old Alex Park residents said such advertising is not only in violation of city by-laws but also unethical and misleading to prospective buyers.

According to the City of Harare’s Avondale Development Plan Number 39, that also covers Old Alexandra Park, only three streets in Old Alexandra Park – Downie Avenue, Sam Nujoma Street (Second Street Extension), and Churchill Avenue – are designated for low-impact commercial offices with a maximum height of two storeys. The rest of the neighbourhood is strictly residential.

In a letter addressed to the estate agents, the residents’ association highlighted the potential legal consequences that unsuspecting buyers may face if they buy properties advertised as commercial but are actually zoned for residential use.

“The purpose of this letter is to clarify the suburb’s legal status in order to ensure that this inaccurate advertising no longer happens. Therefore, advertising residential properties in Old Alexandra Park as commercial is not only in contravention of the city by-laws but is unethical and misleading,” the residents wrote.

The residents’ association emphasised that they are taking the matter seriously and are working closely with their legal team, city officials, and senior Government officials to pursue legal action against estate agents found responsible for misleading advertising or providing incorrect information to potential buyers.

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