The rural community's commitment to making sure that the UK's communication network is as effective and widespread as possible should not be taken advantage of when agreeing terms of a telecoms lease. Since the introduction of The Electronic Communications Code in 2017 ('the Code') telecoms operators have been seeking to replace their existing agreements with ones that allow them to pay a significantly reduced rent. A new lease under the Code could see rent payable of around £500 when the landowner was previously receiving rent in the region of £5,000.
Now that the Code has been in place for a few years, disputes have been able to trickle through the system and the Tribunal has seen a few cases more recently which offer welcome guidance on how a fair rent can be arrived at.
Telecoms operators had been seeking to pay nominal rents for existing apparatus on the basis of their existing use as a telecoms apparatus site, but the Tribunal have consistently rejected this and indicated that each particular site needed to be considered in isolation. An important factor will be the burden that the site creates, such as adjoining land not being able to be used for its intended purpose, or access being required across the landowner's other land. The Tribunal has also clarified that if you have an existing telecoms lease that has been in place for a number of years, it may be the case that it is still governed by legislation that applied before the Code and so the new Code methods of arriving at the rent that the telecoms operators will try to use are in fact irrelevant.
When dealing with telecoms operators, it is really important to ensure that you have both legal and land agency advice to ensure that the agreement is fair and that you get what you are entitled to.
If you have received any correspondence in relation to renewing a telecoms lease and you would like some advice, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our Agricultural team who would be pleased to help.
At Gepp Solicitors we can advise on all aspects of commercial property law. For more information and guidance, please contact us on 01245 228126 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.