The Digital Economy Act 2017
The new Code does not just apply to mobile phone masts but also overhead or underground fibre cables, roof top apparatus, broadband infrastructure and BT copper wire. The most onerous changes to landlords are as follows:
Rents: As mobile phone mast rents move away from traditional market valuation methodology and towards compulsory purchase principles, rents for some sites will be significantly less. The new annual payments are intended to leave the landlord no better or worse off than they would be without the apparatus. Are you certain the offer being made will not cause you loss over the term of the operator’s occupation?
Assignment & Site Sharing: Operators have the right to assign their lease or share the site with other code operators without recourse to the landlord (certain conditions apply). Keeping track of who is occupying your property will therefore become more difficult, and rooftop / site access management and comprehensive operator access protocols are imperative.
Upgrading equipment: Operators will also be able to upgrade and share equipment without recourse to the landlord (subject to certain conditions). That is not to say you should not ensure the operators’ new installations and upgrade design and build works are not independently reviewed and scrutinised. Operators must comply with all healthy and safety regulations.
Termination: Landlord must now give operators 18 months’ prior notice to terminate any lease and the grounds on which they can ask for possession are very limited. As this could cause considerable delays in the case of redevelopment, it is imperative that landlords and developers seek the correct strategic advice, as early as possible.
As landlords and their managing agents very reluctantly shift their focus away from strong commercial rents towards damage limitation and mitigation of risks to their property assets, it is has never been more important for you to seek the correct Code advice from a specialist.
If you need any advice on the new Code get in touch.