Mobile Phone Masts
Do you need help leasing your land for Telecommunication? Miller & Miller are here to advise.
Here we share some of the key changes introduced by the new Electronic Communications Code.
The Digital Economy Act became law in April 2017 from which the new Electronic Communications Code became legally effective on 28th December 2017.
The new Electronic Communications Code (Schedule 3 A of the Communications Act 2003) otherwise known as “The Code” has changed the way operators can deal with landowners when entering into a new lease, or re-organising or terminating an existing lease, for the purposes of erecting a mast for telecommunications.
Things you need to know should an operator approach you as a landowner seeking consent for certain rights to construct a tower, compound etc:
Under Existing Agreements:
Prior to 28 December 2017 any existing agreements in place do not fall within the Code, they remain under the terms of the existing agreement.
The new Code will apply if the existing lease is renegotiated or terminated.
Agreements Under the New Code
Agreements can be negotiated but not outside the scope of the Code which is limited to several points such as:
• be predominantly made in order to grant Code rights
• be in writing
• be signed by parties
• state the period granted
• state the period if any required for notice for termination
If it does not fulfil these tests it is not a Code agreement and has no protection under the Code.
The Code falls outside of the 1954 Landlord and Tenant Act. Negotiations are limited but you can negotiate other items such as access outside the Code.
The operator can share the site without charge.
Terminated Code rights by the owner is by giving at least 18 months-notice to the operator running until a date when the agreement has ended.
Notice may be served for reasons such as re-development of the site.
The operator then only retains security if a counter notice is served within 3 months and the matter is then referred to the court within 3 months after that counter notice.
The parties can agree a new agreement however failing this the court is to determine the issue.
The same procedure applies to removal of apparatus.
Valuation Under the Old Rules.
Under the old rules valuations for calculating rent were based on the value of the infrastructure according to its worth to the operator.
This resulted in “hot spots” attracting higher rental agreements than those located in more remote areas.
Under the new Code the principle is that the value is what the land is worth to the landowner eg. agricultural value and is not based on the value to the operator.
Upgrades and Site Sharing
The new Code state that where equipment is being upgraded or shared, landowner consent is not required unless this imposes either an additional burden or an adverse visual impact.
Removal of Apparatus and Redevelopment
As mentioned above, there is a legal process in which the landowner and operator have to follow and if agreement is not reached it is for the court to decide upon.
This process could of course be costly for both sides and good advice should be sought to ensure that a robust case is presented.
Capitalisation of Existing Rental
If you have an existing mast and would like to capitalise the rental income then please get in touch as we can facilitate agreeing a lump sum capital payment with a third party management operator should this be of interest to you.
If you are approached by an operator on a new greenfield site we at Miller & Miller are able to assist you with the process to ensure that you reach the best deal with the operator.
Please contact David Miller on Tel No. 0114 237 0120 should you have any queries or wish to discuss a situation you may have, in confidence and without any obligation.