Under the current Electronic Communications Code (Code) operators wishing to provide upgrades to tenants have to obtain formal permission from the landowner in the form of an access agreement or wayleave. However, operators have complained that high levels of landlords are not responding to requests. An operator who does not get cooperation from a landlord can, in theory, take the matter to the Lands Chamber of the Upper Tribunal. However, most operators have been reluctant to do this due to the time, cost and damage to their relationship with landlords.
In response to this issue, the government is now consulting on amendments to the Code to make it easier for operators to gain access. The government is particularly concerned to improve connectivity in the UK and for properties to be linked to gigabit-cable broadband, which cannot be installed without access to the property.
The proposed amendment to the Code would put an obligation on landlords to facilitate access to their properties for operators once they have received appropriate notice and where there has been a request by the tenant. Where a landlord cannot be identified or traced then access would be possible with a magistrate’s court warrant.
This all seems positive at first glance. However, under the present system landlords have control over how access to their properties is managed. This allows them to ensure covenants for all tenants are upheld and to protect the integrity of their asset. By giving operators an automatic right of entry it erodes the landlord’s control over the situation.
Responses to the consultation are due by 21 December 2018.
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