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Landlords Could Lose Out Over Phone Mast Rules Changes


Landlords Could Lose Out Over Phone Mast Rules Changes

The Government has recently published proposals to reform the Electronic Communications Code to encourage mobile phone masts in rural areas – but there are concerns that these could have major implications for landowners letting land for mobile phone masts.

The Electronic Communications Code regulates the relationship between telecoms network operators and site providers in the UK and is presently in need of reform to reflect the enormous changes in digital communications since the Code was established in 1984. The Government has recently published proposals to reform the Code to encourage mobile phone operators to put up more masts in rural areas – but there are concerns that these could have major implications for landowners letting land for mobile phone masts.

Under the proposed changes:

  • Landlords would not receive a market rent based on the economic value of their site to the network operator; rather they would only receive compensation for the use of their land based on the agricultural value.
  • Land agents predict that this could lead to a reduction in annual rents payable to Landlords of well over 90%.
  • While the details of the new scheme are as yet unconfirmed, it is proposed that network operators will be given greater powers, along the lines of those already enjoyed by utilities providers, to take access and to erect masts even before agreement on valuation is reached with the landowner.
  • If a landowner then wishes to dispute the offer from the provider they may need to take the matter to a tribunal at their own expense and with little certainty of the outcome.
  • There is a danger that operators may even seek to terminate current agreements in in order to replace them with arrangements under the new scheme.

For more information and advice, please contact our specialist Land and Rural Business Team.

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