What are interim Code rights?
Operators have been having issues in relation to non-responsive owners of multi-let buildings where the Operator’s customer occupies part of the building as a tenant. This means that there is often a delay in the tenant of those multi-let buildings getting internet services.
In order to tackle this issue the government has published the Telecommunications Infrastructure (Leasehold Property) Bill. This Bill was published before the general election and has now been carried over into the new Parliament. At the time of writing, the Bill is in the House of Commons. When enacted it will permit the court to make an order to grant interim Code rights (under the Electronic Communications Code) for leasehold premises relatively quickly where:
(a) the rights are required in respect of land which is connected to the leased premises; and
(b) the land owner or other person with an interest in the land has not responded to repeated notices given by the Operator seeking an agreement.
This will be known as a “Part 4A Order“.
What’s the process?
The Operator makes a request to the land owner for a Code agreement (“Request Notice”). Following the request there are provisions for two warning notices and a final notice.
The warning notices must be in writing and they must:
(a) include a copy of the Request Notice;
(b) state which notice it is e.g. first, second or third of three notices; and
(c) explain the effect of a Part 4A order.
What are the timings?
If the land owner doesn’t respond to the Operator and 14 days have passed since the final notice was given, the Operator can apply to court for the Part 4A Order.
The Operator must then give the landowner notice that he/she has applied to the court.
What happens next?
The court may grant the Order if the requirements set out above have been met and the land owner hasn’t responded to the Operator.
Once granted the Part 4A Order will grant the Operator the Code rights specified in the request and the Operator will be permitted to install the electronic communications apparatus for the benefit of the tenant.
Do the rights expire?
Yes, Part 4A Code rights expire when:
(a) a replacement agreement comes into effect;
(b) the court refuses an application by the Operator for the imposition of a replacement agreement, in accordance with that decision; or
(c) a period of no more than 18 months has passed following the grant of a Part 4A Order.
What are the implications of the interim Code rights?
The Operator may be given Code rights to install electronic communications apparatus in premises without the consent of the land owner.
What do you do if you receive any notice from an Operator?
Acknowledge the request as soon as possible and seek professional advice. Once an acknowledgment has been made the Operator cannot apply for a Part 4A Order.