The chance to earn some easy money may entice many owners to enter into leases to allow telecoms operators to place equipment on their land or buildings, but the effect of legislation in the background may mean that the short term arrangement they thought they were entering into may not be as easy to walk away from as they believed.
The Electronic Communications Code is contained in Schedule 2 of the 1984 Telecommunications Act (as amended). Paragraph 21 of the Code means that serving a Notice to Quit at the end of a lease with a telecoms operator may not mean that the Lease will come to an end at its termination date.
If, after receiving notice, the operator does nothing for 28 days, then the Notice to Quit will take effect and the operator will be required to remove on the relevant day in the usual way. If, however, the operator serves a Counter Notice within that 28 day period setting out why the owner is not entitled to remove them or detailing the steps which they are proposing to take to allow them to stay in situ (which is usually just that they are seeking to negotiate a new lease with the owner) then the owner is not entitled to enforce the removal of the operator without first getting a court order to that effect.
Having served the Counter Notice, the onus is then on the owner to take steps to effect removal. In order to get the court order for removal, the court needs to be satisfied that the operator is not intending to take the steps it proposes or is being unreasonably dilatory in doing so or that the taking of those steps will not secure any right to keep the apparatus on the land in question or reinstall it if removed.
This whole process can take a significant amount of time and result in considerable costs for the owner, for which they have no right to compensation as also if, for example, they lose out on the benefits of a redevelopment/ sale as a result.
If you are considering entering into a lease with a telecoms operator and want to make sure that your interests are protected as well as possible, please contact a member of the MBM Commercial LLP Property Team for assistance.