Yesterday, the government launched its latest consultation in respect of the Telecommunications Infrastructure (Leasehold Property) Act (the "Act").
The aim of the Act (which received Royal Assent in March 2021) is to encourage landowners to respond to requests for access issued by operators and creates a new route through the courts that operators can use to access blocks of flats and apartments if a landowner is repeatedly unresponsive to requests for access. The Act will prevent a situation where a leaseholder is unable to receive a service due to the silence of their landowner.
If an operator encounters these circumstances they may make an application to the First-tier Tribunal to acquire interim Code rights to the property, if they first satisfy certain conditions. These conditions include the issuing of 3 notices to the landowner over a 28 day period, and a final notice which leaves no less than 14 days for a response.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) would now like views on:
(1) the terms that will accompany the interim Code rights provided to operators who have successfully applied for an interim order;
(2) whether the scope of the Act should be extended to include other property types (such as business parks and office blocks);
(3) procedural matters relating to the application process; and
(4) the length of time for which interim rights should remain valid.
The consultation period ends on 4 August 2021 and we would encourage all land owners to respond to ensure that the balance that DCMS hope to retain between the rights of operators and landowners (even in their absence) and those living in blocks of flats and apartments seeking to access broadband is fair.
We believe that every home and business in this country should have access to fast, reliable connectivity, and that consumers should be able to access the services they need from the providers they want. It is for this reason that we have passed the Telecommunications Infrastructure (Leasehold Property) Act, which will support those living in blocks of flats and apartments (also known as multi-dwelling buildings) to access broadband services.