In today’s financial climate, more and more farmers are tapping into their entrepreneurial spirits and finding ways to use farm assets to generate additional income. One such way has been to allow telecommunication companies to site mobile phone masts on their land under telecoms lease agreements.
Since the mobile phone market has boomed, lease agreements for the land and the airspace rented to telecommunication companies have brought in valuable additional income for landowners. However, advances in technology means that mobile phone companies have been able to collaborate without having to site additional hardware. Additionally, the tough economic climate has meant many operators are being forced to seek financial savings and this is one area being considered.
Alistair Millar, agricultural lawyer at Tallents Solicitors in Southwell, examines some key areas, which landowners renting out land for mobile phone sites under telecoms lease agreements should be aware of.
It appears that mobile phone operators are currently reviewing mobile phone sites following a series of mergers and collaboration agreements, and as such we have seen a series of phone operators trying to exercise break clauses and terminate lease agreements early.
This is a complicated area of law and the leases should have been carefully negotiated at the outset to ensure that the landowner receives fair compensation.
Telecommunication leasing agreements will usually cover the following areas:
The first is the amount of land and airspace that the company wishes to use. Airspace is particularly important as it could allow the company to add additional dishes and hardware to the mast in the future without any additional financial payment to the landowner.
The solicitor should ensure that any significant increases in the size of the mast, or mast-sharing, will ensure a renegotiation of the lease and raises the option of additional rental income increases for the landowner.
Landowners should also ensure that the company does not have automatic renewal rights.
Alistair points out,
However, landowners need to be aware that this clause can be overridden by Schedule 2 of the Telecommunications Act 1984 which allows the company to demand a new lease for the mast.
When negotiating telecommunication leases, landowners also need to consider access rights to the mast.
Access to the mast will be vital for maintenance and upgrading of equipment but it is possible to ensure that the exercise of these rights does not cause undue disturbance to the landowner.
When negotiating leases, your solicitor should also consider tenant break options, enhanced equipment rights and prevent the site being shared across several telecommunication companies without financial recompense.
This is a rapidly changing environment and we always recommend landowners should consult an experienced lawyer before negotiations begin to ensure they receive the best terms possible.
If your mobile phone site is due for renewal, or you have received a rent review notice, then contact our experienced lawyers at Tallents for immediate advice before you agree to anything.
Tallents Solicitors has been advising the farmers and landowners of Nottinghamshire since 1774 and has a wealth of experience in dealing with agricultural law.