Q&A - Telecomms company wants to reduce rent in renewal agreement for siting a mast on my land. What should I do?

Q:        Several years ago, my father agreed to lease out land in one of our fields to a telecoms company for the erection of a mast. That lease agreement is now coming to an end and as I have taken over the farm, I do not wish to renew it as the new terms they are offering are considerably less favourable than previously. Can you advise me how I would go about getting rid of the mast?

 A:        In 2017 the legislation relating to telecoms masts changed with the introduction of the Electronic Communications Code. Prior to this, a landowner could refuse to rent out land for the erection of a mast. Now, because mobile phone and broadband coverage is considered as essential as utilities such as water and electricity, telecoms operators can apply to the court to impose an agreement on the landowner without their consent.

Worse still, operators are now trying to get away with offering just a fraction of the rental fees they used to be prepared to pay, in respect of both new agreements and renewals. In the case of existing masts, unless the operator fails to make the rental payments, or the site is awarded planning permission for an alternative project, it is extremely difficult to get a mast removed.

 There is no doubt that the new legislation favours the operator, and you should seek legal advice about removal of the mast or the renewal of your lease agreement. What is in your favour, however, is that you are entitled to get your legal fees paid for by the operator, to help reach an agreement if the rent offer is too low or there is a dispute between you. Some operators have been known to offer annual rent in the low hundreds instead of the several thousand pounds a year they should be generating for landowners.

This question has been answered by Richard Lloyd, a Partner with GHP Legal.  If you would like to speak to someone about this or any other legal matter it is still possible, and we are doing everything we can to ensure that we continue to offer our high levels of service to our clients.  In accordance with government guidelines, some of our lawyers are currently working remotely which means you may not now receive a response as promptly as you may expect. Please kindly bear with us and we will respond as soon as we are able.

Where possible, we ask that you communicate with us by phone or email. If you have a new enquiry, please use the ‘Contact us’ form on the website or call 01691 659194. As a firm, you will appreciate that we are still extremely busy, and due to current circumstances work may be interrupted – however cases are still ongoing and will be prioritised by urgency and need. Stay safe and thank you for your support.

Richard Lloyd

Richard Lloyd

Partner

Our Senior Partner and Head of the Property team in Oswestry