I HAVE ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATIONS APPARATUS ON MY PROPERTY; WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS?

Access to high-speed mobile phone data is seen as an essential part of everyday life. With the ever-growing changes to technology and the strong need for superfast data, there is an ever-increasing pressure on mobile network operators to deliver ubiquitous mobile coverage across the UK.

The provision of 4G ubiquitous coverage is a key economic indicator amongst the most developed countries in the World. The UK being one of these, has been found to be lacking when it comes to the performance of its fixed line electronic communications networks and to a lesser extent, its mobile electronic communications networks. Although many of the problems with the fixed line network are due to the well-publicised problems with the monopoly held by Openreach until recently, the UK Government has decided to update the existing electronic communications code (“the Code”) as found Communications Act 2003 in the hope that this will allow fixed line operators to rapidly catch up with our continental European neighbours. The Code is also shared by mobile network operators and the knock-on effect is that the change in legislation, effective from 28 December 2017, also grants the same rights and privileges to mobile network operators such as Vodafone, O2, EE and Three. Unlike fixed line operators, mobile network operators have traditionally leased property from landlords paying a nominal rent in consideration.

The new Code differs considerably to its predecessor. For example, there are fundamental changes to the assessment of consideration, rights to assign an agreement, share and upgrade equipment and much more onerous termination and removal provisions as far as a land owner is concerned. The new Code applies to all agreements with operators who benefit from the protection of the Code. However, most of the salient changes mentioned herein do not apply retrospectively to agreements completed before 28 December 2017. If you are a landlord, you should seek specialist advice from a firm such as Cell:cm Chartered Surveyors to be sure of your position and how the new Code affects your asset.

RENT/CONSIDERATION
Possibly, the biggest change in the market as a consequence of the new Code is the assessment of consideration or ‘rent’. We are yet to see how the market will fully reacts to the change but in these early weeks it is clear that there will be an aggressive push by the mobile network operators to reduce the consideration paid at their existing and future sites. Appropriate advice from a specialist firm of valuers such as Cell:cm Chartered Surveyors should be sought before entering into any negotiations with the specialist valuers appointed by the mobile network operators.

AN OPERATOR IS INTERESTED IN BUILDING A NEW MAST ON MY LAND/PROPERTY
Before you even allow an agent acting for a mobile network operator to inspect your land you should speak to a specialist firm of surveyors such as Cell:cm. The new Code now gives the operators extensive powers to access your property without agreement and build a mast. To avoid prejudicing your position we strongly advise that you do not allow anybody acting for a fixed line or mobile network operator to access your property before you have been provided with specialist advice.

I ALREADY HAVE TELECOMMUNICATIONS MAST ON MY LAND/PROPERTY
Telecommunications is a niche area of commercial property. The mobile network operators instruct firms of chartered surveyors with a specialist knowledge of this sector to ensure that they get the best possible deal from a landlord. It therefore makes sense for a landlord to seek the services of a specialist firm of chartered surveyors such as Cell:cm to ensure that any deal being proposed by an operator’s agent truly represents market value. This is particularly important at rent reviews and lease renewals where access to recently completed market transactions is integral to agreeing an appropriate rent.

CAN I SELL MY TELECOMMUNICATIONS MAST?
Yes you can. Even with the aggressive push by operators to reduce the consideration paid at their existing and future sites, there remains strong appetite from investors in this property sector. Cell:cm can advise on how best to bring your asset to the market and at what price. AP Wireless Infrastructure Partners is one of the leading investors for mast and tower sites.

If any of the above has raised questions that you feel you would like further clarification on or you would just like a discussion about how we can help best protect your interests, please don’t hesitate to contact Cell:cm Chartered Surveyors.

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