Landmark ruling on rooftop phone masts
20th October 2020, 11:18 am
A Tribunal ruling has set an annual payment of £5,000 for a rooftop phone mast in London and clarified the terms of agreements made between landowners and telecom operators.
The case of CTIL v L&Q, where the specialist team from law firm Clarke Willmott LLP acted for landowners L&Q will have implications for future telecoms agreements for rooftop sites.
Kary Withers, Partner at Clarke Willmott said: “This is the first time that market evidence of new code deals has been considered by a Tribunal and that is why a figure of £5,000 p.a as opposed to £1,000 at a previous Tribunal case involving a property in Islington, has been arrived at.
“The Tribunal also concluded that unrestricted sharing is incompatible with ensuring the least possible loss to landowners.”
The Tribunal made it clear that operators should pay for temporarily shifting its equipment to enable landlords to carry out essential repairs, putting the onus squarely on the telecoms operator. Martin Rodger QC commented during the trial that “the notion that landowners should pay for lift and shifts is ludicrous… [the parties] are out of their minds if they thought the landowner should pay.”
The Tribunal considered that the consideration of this London rooftop site should be an annual payment of £5,000 for a 10 year agreement where the freeholder insured and kept the building in repair and allowed for access (the operator agreed to give L&Q prior notice of visits).
The Tribunal recognised that the use of a rooftop through common parts (which other occupants have rights to use and which will be regularly visited by contactors) is likely to involve the landowner in expense which would otherwise be avoided which should be taken into account in any hypothetical negotiation.
The consideration ordered included an allowance for building maintenance and insurance of £1500, an allowance of £1,000 for managing access and an allowance for the anticipated costs for upgrading and sharing with two other operators.
The Tribunal reviewed market evidence and decided that deals negotiated before the commencement of the new code could not be taken as a reliable guide to values. Neither is evidence of existing sites.
However, evidence of new lettings negotiated after the commencement of the new Code provided “the most helpful guide as to what the parties to a consensual agreement for a letting” would agree.
Finally, the Tribunal considered that willing parties negotiating a 10-year arrangement would be more likely to agree an annual payment rather than a “one off” payment.
Clarke Willmott LLP is a national law firm with offices in Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, London, Manchester, Southampton and Taunton. It has a specialist team acting for landowners against telecoms operators and full details of other important rulings in this Tribunal can be found at www.clarkewillmott.com
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