Tracey Knott, 54, is a small-scale landlord with a flat to rent in Birmingham that has slower-than-average internet speeds. “It’s not much better than dial-up and has been an absolute nightmare,” she said.
In July last year, its tenant attempted to upgrade the internet, but Openreach was unable to install full fiber without permission from freehold, Persimmon, the homebuilder. Ms Knott stepped in in January and kicked out the building’s management agent, Gateway, every fortnight.
Ms Knott now fears she will struggle to find new tenants due to poor internet speeds when her tenant moves out later this year. “I should probably take £50 off the rent,” she said.
She is concerned that the property may not be let as more and more properties get faster internet access. “If everyone has 1,000 Mbps, I will only be able to rent to people who don’t use the internet. And I haven’t yet met anyone who doesn’t,” she added.
The fall in real estate prices will come
Once Openreach upgrades the majority of homes to full fiber, the divide between properties will be extreme. Mr. Bateman said: “Speeds of 30 Mbps are sufficient for people’s needs today. But the way we live and work will accelerate as 1,000 Mbps becomes the norm.”
This should cause real estate prices to fall. Research by the London School of Economics has suggested an upgrade from 30Mbps to 1,000Mbps would bring a price premium of 3pc – an increase of £8,310 on a typical home.
The LSE’s Gabriel Ahlfeldt said that premium would be higher in urban areas that rely heavily on internet services. In London, he estimated the premium at 6%, or an extra £31,800 on the value of an average house in the capital.
However, once the rollout of Openreach is complete, the situation would reverse and homes without complete fiber would be reduced “A fast and reliable connection will be universally expected and if it cannot be offered, sellers and owners will have to be prepared to accept deep discounts,” Ahlfeldt said. This could represent a drop of 3 to 6%.
Vanessa Hale of estate agents Strutt & Parker said the shift to working from home meant broadband was more integral.
“Almost half of homeowners wouldn’t consider moving into a home without good broadband,” she said. “Homes that don’t have a top-notch broadband connection will be undesirable.”
More penalties for tenants
Mr Betts added that many of those who will be deprived of upgrades are in the same blocks that have been affected by the building safety crisis that emerged following the Grenfell fire in 2017.
“This is another injustice of the lease system. This is totally unfair, especially since apartments very often have ordinary reception problems, which means that having better internet is even more important. It’s a very, very big problem,” Mr Betts said.
A government spokesperson said: ‘We agree that insensitive landowners should not prevent residents from accessing fast and reliable broadband. That’s why we introduced legislation to encourage faster, more collaborative negotiations between landowners and telecom companies, and last year we passed new laws to speed business access to buildings. housing when the landowner does not respond to requests.
A Persimmon spokesperson apologized for the difficulties encountered at his property. “Given the unacceptable delay, we have contacted Openreach and Gateway to try to resolve any outstanding issues and will work with them to ensure the necessary approvals are granted as soon as possible,” he added.