01 Mar 23 by Helen Hollow

The introduction of the Electronic Communications Code in 2017, along with the more recent Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Act (PTSI) 2022, sets out changes made by the Government in order to promote telecoms provisions to the general public, as well as assist new and advanced infrastructure being put in place. This Code was introduced in response to the idea that network expansion was being hindered by historically high rents being charged on sites. The view was put that landlords had benefitted from rises every three years on previously unused sites, and this was holding back the rollout and investment in new telecoms masts, which was hurting the rural community in particular. The Code is designed to open up the market and encourage operators to install new masts, ‘fixing’ signal black holes and increasing bandwidth for the 5G rollout.

Negotiating new leases for telecoms mast sites

Whilst generally a positive move for the UK, this legislation has had an adverse impact on landlords who have standalone or rooftop telecoms masts on their land or property, particularly in regard to their legal rights and the level of rents now achievable. As many Telecoms leases are now reaching the end of their original terms, landowners are finding that the new leases being offered are considerably less lucrative.

Telecoms providers are well-versed in how the EC Code and PTSI Act can benefit them as tenants, and often take the lead in negotiating new leases. There are, however, a limited number of surveyors throughout the UK who can provide in-depth support to landlords.

Obtaining professional assistance to determine whether a tenants proposal is a fair and reasonable one, and one which is in line with the Code and Act, is essential in protecting the landlord throughout the new lease Term. A surveyor with experience in dealing with telecoms providers, their agents and current lease requirements can obtain the best result within the current boundaries of this expanding market. There are some legal proceedings in the system which are challenging how the terms of a new lease might be agreed, with early decisions being made both for and against the landowners. This is a potentially complex area and we suggest if you are about to negotiate with your telecomms operator that you speak to the lease advisory team at vickery Holman first.