The Electronic Communications Code gives licensed telecoms operators statutory rights to install and retain their equipment on land which is privately owned.
The new Code commenced on 28 December 2017. The new Code includes reforms benefiting operators, and it is important that landowners with telecoms operators as tenants understand the changes.
1. New Rights
The new Code expands on the rights already granted to telecom operators, including the right to connect to a power supply.
2. Upgrading and sharing the site
The new Code grants operators the power to upgrade and share their telecoms kit with other operators, provided certain conditions are met.
Compensation and consideration payable by telecoms operators to landowners will now be calculated according to the open market value of the land from the perspective of the landowner only. The value of the land to the operator, particularly if this is an important site, is wholly disregarded. Rental payments may therefore be inevitably lower.
4. Landlord and Tenant Act 1954
The new Code excludes any tenancy which has as its “primary purpose” the grant of Code rights from the remit of the 1954 Act. This means that an agreement cannot have both Code and 1954 Act rights. This is a real benefit for landowners who will only need to prove a ground of termination under one statutory regime.
5. Termination and Removal
The new Code allows for termination of Code agreements if a landowner intends to redevelop the site. Under the existing Code, landowners are required to give operators just 28 days’ notice if they want to terminate a Code agreement but now the new Code requires 18 months’ notice to the operator just to terminate a Code agreement.
Under the new Code, Landowners must serve a further notice specifying a reasonable period of time for the operator to remove their apparatus. Something for developers to bear in mind with their timescales.
There are transitional provisions which apply to existing agreements and the new Code cannot be completely applied to all existing telecoms agreements. Landowners should now take the time now to review any agreements/leases they have in place with operators and take advice to check what impact the new Code will have on them.
For further information or advice, please contact one of our property solicitors today on 01524 846846.