Review mast agreements now

Mobile phone mast.
Mobile phone mast.

Scottish farmers and landowners with a mobile phone mast on their land are achieving deals that pay an average annual rent of £6,029, according to Strutt & Parker’s 2016 Telecommunications Survey.

It is well below the average claimed by the operators and rents are likely to fall still further once the new Telecoms Code is introduced next year, say the firm’s telecoms specialists.

They are also warning landlords including churches, charities, schools, local authorities and private individuals to negotiate any lease reviews or terminations before the new regulations kick in and they become subject to far more draconian conditions.

Site providers who leave it until next year and beyond will find themselves in a very different, and much weaker, position, says the firm.

Negotiating a new lease or agreement now will avoid some of the more contentious issues in the new legislation and will also secure a rent based on market value rather than compensation, which will be the case going forward.

The survey shows that the five-year rolling average rent for greenfield site deals is £6,022/yr – although many of the more rural sites are well below this level – which is considerably less than a survey carried out by Deloitte on behalf of the mobile operators which put it at £7,506.

Ian Thornton-Kemsley, Scottish telecoms specialist at Strutt & Parker, said: “It has become clear that agents for operators are approaching landowners across Scotland and the rest of the country seeking site leases on very operator-friendly terms and in some cases offering rents of just £3,000 and demanding unrestricted rights.

“This is well below market value so take professional advice before agreeing to anything.”

Mr Thornton-Kemsley warned farmers that the new Telecoms Code, currently being debated in Parliament as part of the Digital Economy Bill and likely to come into force in spring 2017, could mean radical changes for mast rents.