Under the Communications Act 2003 and the Digital Economy Act 2017, the Electronic Communications Code was brought into effect on 28th December 2017 to prove the Government’s pledge towards the digital industry as more and more requirements are to be carried out electronically.
Up until last year, Landowners were able to receive a reasonable rent for masts located upon their land which reflected the value to the Operator. Since the Electronic Communications Code came into effect, there have been many disagreements upon the interpretation of the new regulations. This has had major effects on the way the rent is calculated. It is also thought that the new code does not provide an adequate balance between the rights and interests of Landowners against that of the Operators.
One of the key issues with the new code is that the change in the way the rent is calculated. Previously the rent was ascertained by market value and now the operators are stating that the rent should relate to the value of the land lost.
Very few agreements have been approved since the new code came into effect because of the lack of rent being offered, although the new code rights do allow the Operator to apply to the Court to impose an agreement between the Landowner and the Operator.
A few cases have now been tested in Court and it appears that the Court has ruled in favour of the Operators.
In the case of EE Ltd and H3G UK Ltd v London Borough of Islington, there was a rooftop site, in which EE and H3G wished to relocate their apparatus to another building due to a re-development of the existing building. The Landowner originally requested £21,000 under the old regulations, but the Operator proposed £2,551.77 when the new code was introduced, and the Tribunal ruled in favour of the Operator.
The decision held that the owner of the land is to be compensated for what they have lost.
We argue that the rent, under the new code powers, should be assessed on what the owner is losing not only on the site itself but over the other land of the landlord.
Telecommunication mast rents, especially where located on farms near buildings and houses were let at the rents to reflect the impact that they had on the value and enjoyment of adjacent houses etc.
We therefore contend that each site should be assessed, not only the small area lost to the mast, but also how the mast devalues and effects the rest of the property; be it a farm, house or commercial premises. If you would like to discuss or find out more about the new Electronic Communication Code and your rights with regards to masts, please contact Robyn Peat, James Carruthers or Caroline Horn.