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21 December 2017

137: New Electronic Telecommunications Code comes into force

The new Electronic Communications Code comes into force on Thursday 28 December 2017 with some significant changes for property owners.

Whilst existing agreements will continue to be governed by the current Code, complex transitional arrangements will take effect and all new Code agreements from 28 December will be governed by the new regulations under the Digital Economy Act 2017.

The new Code continues to give landowners no guarantee that vacant possession can be obtained at the end of any agreement which allowed telecommunications equipment onto the land.

The main changes are as follows:

  • The Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 will not apply to new Code lettings;
  • The valuation of Code rights has been fundamentally changed to ‘no scheme value’. This means that the operator is not a special purchaser and ends up paying less for the rights than it does under the current Code;
  • Termination and removal rights have been rewritten;
  • Operators will be granted unfettered rights of assigning, sharing and upgrading apparatus;
  • Contracting out of new Code rights will not be permitted – Code lettings will have ‘security of tenure’ similar to 1954 Act type rights; and
  • The telecommunications agreement must be in writing, signed by both parties and must set out the length of the contractual term.

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