Phone Mast

Lease renewals forced on landlords as operators serve notices

Mobile phone operators are serving notices all over the UK to force lease renewals. The Part 4 or Part 5 Notices are being served by all the major phone mast operators, including: Vodafone, EE, Arqiva, O2, and Hutchinson 3G.

The legal notices are an attempt by the operators to try to enforce new agreements under the Electronic Communications Code (as set out in the Digital economy Act 2017).

Matt Restall, director at The Phone Mast Advice Company comments: “While we have seen many Part 4 and 5 Notices served on phone mast landlords, operators appear confused whether either of these can be relied on.”

A Part 4 Notice is served to a tenant looking for a new agreement and a Part 5 Notice is served to renew an agreement that has expired.

Matt continues: “Legal notices can be a scare tactic by the operators but should not simply be ignored. If you have received a Part 4 or Part 5 Notice for you phone mast and are concerned about what this could mean for your phone mast and rental income, you must take action before the deadline on the Notice.”

The Phone Mast Advice Company has over 15 years’ experience advising phone mast landlords and can be contacted on: 0203 8830605.

Mobile Phone

Mast operators issuing ‘Section 26 Notice’

A leading mobile phone mast consultant is urging landlords to get in touch with him if they receive a ‘Section 26 Notice’ from their tenant.

Matt Restall of The Phone Mast Advice Company says Landlords have started to receive Section 26 Notices from phone mast operators and are unsure what this means and what action to take.

The type of commercial lease that is likely to be in place on a phone mast site will have protection under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 (unless opted out of the lease). This clause would give the tenant an automatic right to renew the tenancy under similar terms. To initiate the renewal of a protected tenancy, the mast tenant will serve a ‘Section 26 Notice’ on the mast landlord. The triggering of the Section 26 Notice sets a deadline for negotiation of a new agreement.

Matt comments: “Telecoms operators have tried to renew agreements based on the Electronic Communications Code (ECC), which was amended in 2017 by the Digital Economy Act, and operators have tried to use this to offer very low rents.

“However as recent legal cases* have shown; part five of the ECC, which applies to the renewal of existing tenancies cannot be applied retrospectively. A lease cannot be renewed under the ECC if that lease contains protection under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954. It must be renewed under this law instead.”

After trying to force the ‘New Code Terms’ on landlords, operators seem to have conceded and have instead been rightly issuing Section 26 Notices to landlords with protected tenancies instead. Despite this, the terms they are proposing are still more in line with the ‘New Code’ and not based on the valuation principles of the Landlord and Tenant Act as they should be by law.

Matt is encouraging any landlord that has received a phone mast Section 26 Notice to get in touch for advice before responding to the operators.

“We will be able to review the situation free of charge and advise on the best way forward for landlords,” ends Matt.

To contact the Phone Mast Advice Company, call: 0203 883 0605.

 

 

 

CTIL v Ashloch Limited and AP Wireless II (UK) Limited [2019] UKUT 0338 (LC)

Arqiva

Arqiva assign sites to Arqiva Services

Arqiva

Arqiva are seeking to assign their telecoms mast agreements to Arqiva Services.

Landlords across the UK have been receiving requests to allow the assignment of their Arqiva telecoms agreement to Arqiva Services. Many are questioning who this company is? What is their relationship to Arqiva? What are the implications of an assignment and should they allow it.

Arqiva are primarily an infrastructure in the world of telecoms rather than a telecoms operator themselves. They own phone mast towers across the UK and allow the operators to use space on these towers for their equipment. Quite often, you find an Arqiva phone mast has EE, O2, Vodafone and 3 all transmitting from it.
Arqiva recently agreed to sell its telecom tower portfolio to Spanish owned company Cellnex. It is thought the drive to assign their leases to Arqiva Services is an attempt to separate these assets from Arqiva’s other assets and business to facilitate this sale.

The Phone Mast Advice Company are dealing with hundreds of these Arqiva assignment applications and can advise you and assist you to secure the best outcome. Please contact us before for a free, no obligation chat.

CTIL

A blow for CTIL as they lose their appeal

Almost two years after the law was changed, CTIL expected to be well on their way to reducing phone mast rents across the UK but they have suffered some major setbacks and things are not looking good.

The judgement in Cornerstone Telecommunications Infrastructure Ltd v. Compton Beauchamp Estates Ltd stated that the owner of the land (CBE) was unable to confer code rights on CTIL because it was not in occupation of the site at the time. The land was already leased to Vodafone Ltd who had remained in occupation after the expiry of their lease.

CTIL appealed this decision but it was recently upheld. This is a blow for CTIL who’s main purpose is to manage O2 and Vodafones networks across the UK. Their preference was to secure all new agreements in the name of CTIL, not O2 and Vodafone as was the case previously. This leaves them with few options. One, which is suggested by the judge in the appeal, is to assign the existing lease from Vodafone to CTIL, making CTIL the occupier of the land. Another is to seek a new agreement in the name of the current tenant (i.e. O2 and Vodafone) which brings into question the relevance and purpose of CTIL.

Despite the Digital Economy Act being passed in December 2017, very little progress has been made by operators to date. So far, they have suffered a significant delay in the rollout of new sites and mounting costs due to the greed with which they approached negotiations from the beginning. Landlords have been suitably insulted by the minuscule rents on offer, often as low as £50 per annum. The Government in their Impact Assessment expected a 40% reduction in phone mast rents to be achieved. Maybe less considering the operator may offer more to maintain good landlord and tenant relations. This was far from what actually happened and the result is possibly the slowest rollout of new sites since networks began- the exact opposite of what the new law was intended to achieve.

Law

First victory for landlords in new code tribunal

In a result which has sent shockwaves through the telecoms industry, an application by CTIL to enforce a code agreement on a landlord has been dismissed. It was done so on the basis that the landlord was not in occupation of the site at the time. The Phone Mast Company take personal pride in this outcome as we were heavily involved in this case and have acted on behalf of the landlord for many years. We will continue to battle on behalf of landlords across the UK to attempt to rectify the huge bias the new Electronic Communications Code appears to show towards telecoms operators. We are taking on new clients every day and welcome anyone who needs assistance in their negotiations.

Phones

Recent changes and implications of the Digital Economy Act 2017

Recent changes and implications of the Digital Economy Act 2017.

Due to the recent changes and implications of the Digital Economy Act 2017 we are now advising all landlords not to let mobile phone operators on your land or property, unless an agreement in writing has been completed by a professional agent like The Phone Mast Company prior to them setting a single foot on site.

The new Digital Economy Act and changes to the Electronic Communications Code gives operators unique rights and in some cases allows them to force an agreement on an unsuspecting landlord to install a mobile phone mast for a small amount of money. Once the site is forced on you it would be very difficult to remove. Mobile phone masts can be great assets and income streams providing you get the right rent and contractual terms. We can help you so call us today to talk through your options.

City

The long-awaited changes to the Electronic Communication Code

The long-awaited changes to the Electronic Communication Code puts Telecoms Industry / Phone Mast Sites into a temporary state of turmoil.

  • Many Phone mast agreement renewals now on hold
  • Phone mast upgrades being delayed or put on hold
  • Some new mast site acquisitions on hold, delayed or not progressing
  • Operator’s agents appearing confused and sending out factually incorrect letters
  • Site Providers becoming frustrated

My concern is some people in rural areas and market towns may not benefit from the new ECC and in some cases continue to have poor access to 4G mobile phone coverage, opposite to what the new legislation intended.

I have some sympathy for senior estates management within the operators who are probably being given an impossible task by their shareholders to deliver significant rent reductions / savings off the back of confusing new legislation that does not give operators the powers they had hoped for.

Phone Mast

Government are now trying to dramatically reduce Phone Mast Rents

Mobile Phone Operators and the Government are now trying to dramatically reduce Phone Mast Rents.

These large corporations are earning millions of pounds a year profit off the land/buildings you are supplying as phone mast sites. The Phone Mast Company can help you fight back.

Earlier this year, the Digital Economy Act was passed which seeks to improve and expand the UK’s telecoms infrastructure. The aim is to make them cheaper to run via decreasing rents and permit sharing and upgrades at no additional cost. It doesn’t take a genius to realise any gain for the operators is a loss for landlords.
This is confirmed in a recent government article dated the 19th of October 2017 by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport in which The Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP states the changes to the UK’s Electronic Communications Code will:

  • Bring down the rents telecoms operators pay to landowners
  • Make it easier for operators to upgrade and share their equipment with other operators to help increase coverage
  • Make it easier for telecoms operators and landowners to resolve legal disputes.

The new Code will be accompanied by a Code of Practice, prescribed forms and standard terms to be used in agreements under the new Code. There will be a period of uncertainty as the new version of the Code comes into force and settles down into practice. Operators will no doubt try and target landlords that do not take professional advice, as we have seen in the past.

The Government reformed the Code through the Digital Economy Act, which received Royal Assent in April. The supporting regulations laid in Parliament today will bring the new Code into force, which is expected to take effect in December 2017.

However, with any new law, there are always grey areas. The Phone Mast Company has already identified weak points in the legislation which can be used to benefit the landowner.

IF YOU RECEIVE ANY CORRESPONDENCE FROM ANY OPERATORS WANTING TO REDUCE YOUR RENTS, YOU SHOULD CONTACT US TODAY WITHOUT DELAY. READ THE FULL GOVERNMENT ARTICLE HERE:
www.gov.uk/government/news/reforms-to-boost-uks-digital-infrastructure