A landlord’s response As technological advancement in telecommunications proceeds apace, so does the tenant’s requirement for the use of it. The installation of new or enhanced data transmission cabling to premises will invariably require a wayleave agreement to be signed. This agreement gives rights to the telecoms supplier to install and maintain its apparatus. Unless the business user has a freehold or a long leasehold interest in its premises, the telecoms supplier will invariably want the wayleave agreement to be provided by a person who has such an interest.
Landlords are quite often asked by their tenants to give a wayleave to a telcoms provider in these circumstances. Business leases rarely give the tenant the right to compel its landlord to do so. Landlords invariably want their tenants to succeed and are willing to co-operate. A scenario we have encountered all too frequently is a landlord being invited to sign a “standard” form of wayleave agreement prepared by a telecoms provider. At this point landlords should STOP AND TAKE ADVICE.
Invariably these wayleave agreements have the benefit of the Electronics Communications Code (“Code”). The Code confers a form of surety of tenure to protect the removal of the apparatus installed. It is not currently possible to contract out of the Code in full. When it comes to requiring the removal of the apparatus, the Code will probably override whatever the wayleave agreement says. Despite an absence of case law, there are steps which a landowner/landlord can take in the drafting of these agreements which will probably discourage a telecoms operator in enforcing its Code rights. This can be important when the landlord has development prospects.