Telecommunications Infrastructure (Leasehold Property) Bill

Written evidence submitted by The Berkeley Group Holding plc (TIB01)

Telecommunications Infrastructure (Leasehold Property) Bill

This submission is on behalf of The Berkeley Group Holding plc and its subsidiary companies and joint ventures that trade under the brands of Berkeley Homes, St George, St James, St Edward, St William and St Joseph.

Berkeley is a mixed-use developer constructing approximately 4000 homes pa. The majority of the homes we construct are leasehold apartments, but our schemes include both mixed use developments, large regeneration schemes as well as the more traditional housing estates made up predominantly of houses. Our developments are principally in London and the South East but recently also include the West Midlands

We have been considering the proposed provisions of the above and wish to bring to the Committee the following issues:

1. Fire safety of the building:  Our experience with Operators has been that fire safety is not considered or addressed fully (if at all) when carrying out the retro-fit of apparatus in multiple occupancy buildings. If the works can be imposed under the proposed statute, there should be a requirement that in carrying out its installation works the Operator must not undermine the integrity of the fire safety of the building The Operator should be required to obtain the prior approval of the landlord/freeholder to the details of the proposed works and that such works are then carried out and completed to the landlord/freeholder’s reasonable satisfaction, with sanctions if it does not comply. A schedule of condition with written and photographic records should be a requirement and as built drawings of the apparatus installed should be produced upon completion of the works.

2. Notice should be served on the Superior Landlord/freeholder: It is not clear in the draft bill who the notices must be served upon. This is the "required grantor" but it is not explicitly stated who this is.  In 27A (b) it is the "occupier or another person with an interest in the land" but in 27B (1) (c) (i) it appears that the "required grantor" has to be the person who can confer a Code right. A "relevant interest" in land is either the freeholder or "the person is the lessee of the land" ( paragraph 27I (2) .As the right to be conferred is only for 18 months, an  intermediate landlord with a lesser interest in the building or parts of the building may have  a sufficient property interest in the building to enter the agreement with the Operator. However it is important that the superior landlord and freeholder of the whole building is also required to be served and be a party to the agreement to ensure that proper consideration is given to protecting the overall building’s fire integrity. This should be one of the specified conditions which the Operator must satisfy before being able to apply to the Court for an Order (paragraph 27D (1)( d)). 

3. Owner of the whole building, not just of the tenant’s premises:   It is not clear what is meant by "common ownership" in para.27B (3) (a).  I assume it is that the same land interests are held in both the target premises (the tenant’s premises) and the connected land (the building and/or the estate through which the apparatus is to be installed). Our concern is that again, intermediate landlords with interests only in parts of the building only may not necessarily consider the overall fire integrity of the building as a whole, whereas the owner of the estate or of the block should.

4. Notice on all interested parties in the Building as well as in the tenant’s premises:   Our experience is that operator’s notices are not always served on the registered office or served on the correct land or building owner. If the "request notices" are simply addressed to the "occupier" and served at the address of the property itself these are unlikely to be brought to the immediate attention of the freeholder/landlord, as they rarely have an office or day to day presence at the property. Special rules for service should therefore apply to the "required grantor" as it is imperative that Operators should not have the right to impose an agreement unless they can prove that "request notices" have been correctly served on the correct land interests at their registered offices. A simple search at the Land Registry will confirm the details of the freeholder and any other interests in the building and/or estate and of Companies House for the up-to-date registered office address.

5. Landlord’s approval to the works under the terms of its lease:  The Operator’s agreement does not absolve the tenant from obtaining the landlord’s approval to the works under the terms of its lease. Normally the carrying out of alterations to the premises or other parts of the building or estate is not permitted or only allowed with the landlord’s prior consent. This should be one of the specified conditions which the Operator must satisfy before being able to apply to the Court for an Order (paragraph 27D (1) (d). In the proposed regulations, there should also be a reminder that the permitted rights do not override landlord & tenant restrictions.

6. Prescribed forms of notices:  The "request notice" should be in a prescribed form with a warning statement pointing out the dangers to the recipient of failing to respond to the Operator’s notice The form of the "warning notice" in section 27C ( 2) and "final notice" in paragraph 27C (5)  should also be prescribed by regulations.

February 2020

 

Prepared 12th February 2020