Moving house, we are told, is only superseded by death and divorce in the stress stakes. Yet, the headache for high profile individuals can get a lot worse if you fail to take the issue of privacy into account.

From interior photos being splashed across the newspapers, to architects proudly displaying plans of the interior on their websites, even a brilliantly executed house move risks being exploited – turning your dream move into a nightmare.

People understandably are upset when articles about their homes appear in the newspapers and it’s not just the tabloids. Broadsheets can be just as guilty.

There have been many instances when we’ve been contacted on a Saturday afternoon because a newspaper has obtained photos of the interior of a client’s home. Depending on what information is already publically available, we can often help the home owner to assert their control by containing the threat and preventing the photos from being published.

Yet a less stressful alternative would be to take the pre-emptive steps that limit the chances of the photos being made available to the press in the first place. Some of the ways you can avoid the open house scenario is by:

  • Having in place a proper agreement with the estate agent so that when the house goes on the market, the photos won’t be made available online.
  • Agreeing with the estate agent that the copyright for the photos are owned by the home owner. This means that if anyone else tries to publish the photos, you can quickly assert copyright and avoid the privacy vs public interest / public domain arguments.
  • Making it an express term of agreements with architects, designers and so on that no images of the properties will be published and again ensure copyright in any such images automatically passes to the home owner. In short, don’t let a proud interior designer or architect inadvertently give the game away by posting photos of the house on their website.
  • Thinking carefully ahead of submitting any planning applications. Newspapers love planning applications, especially if something creative is being done like a basement extension or a zen massage room. Whilst the media will argue that a planning application resides in the public domain, it is possible to limit the amount of information that is made available about a planning application – so long as you have the discussion early on, well before anything is filed.

As these simple steps go to show, it is possible to avoid personal and potentially damaging stories from appearing in the media by planning pre-emptively. Horizon scanning reports can prove an invaluable tool in your arsenal, so long as someone is responsible for putting in place the recommended steps for reducing the risk of an open house crisis.