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Pressure on mobile phone mast rents

Thu 23 May 2019

Tim Yonge of Michelmore Hughes Stags in Totnes discusses new 'Code Rights' for telecom operators.

There has been a lot of uncertainty over new rights granted to telecom operators under the new Electronic Communications Code which came into force on 28 December 2017 - known as ‘Code Rights’. Mobile operators are looking favourably on the new legislation and are requesting substantial rent reductions. In some instances they are offering rents of less than £1,000 per annum, where previously rents of £4,000 to £6,000 per annum (excluding any site share) had been achieved.    

It is only in recent months that judgements on the new Electronic Communications Code have started to emerge from the Upper Tribunal (which now decides telecom disputes). However, landowners should be wary of telecom operators citing recent tribunal decisions to back up offers of low rents. Under the new Electronic Communications Code rents should be assessed on a site-by-site basis, taking into account all relevant factors pertaining to that site. Landlords need to be sure that the tribunal evidence being put forward is relevant to their site.

There is no doubt that the new ‘Code Rights’ give telecom operators more rights than previously enjoyed under the old legislation. However, until the current interpretation of the new legislation becomes clearer, landlords should be wary of terms offered by operators. Otherwise, they may be agreeing to obligations beyond the scope of the new ‘Code Rights’. 

Negotiating rent and new lease terms is a complex issue and we always advise landlords seek professional advice from an experienced Surveyor to ensure that they secure the best outcome from a Landlord’s point of view.   

For further advice, please contact Stags Professional Services today.

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