The amalgamation of mobile phone companies and the current economic downturn is resulting in landowners who have mast sites struggling to maintain the rents.
Julian Clarke of land agents Bell Ingram said this week there were numerous cases across the country where major phone operators are threatening that existing sites will be made redundant because the companies have agreed to share sites.
In some cases companies have threatened to remove masts altogether unless their rents are dropped.
“Telecom companies are now using the threat of decommissioning phone masts in order to pressurise landowners into accepting substantially lower rents on review,” he said.
“Sometimes they are offering to pay between 20 to 30 per cent less than their previously agreed levels and say they’ll just remove the masts altogether if landowners don’t agree to the new rents.
He urged landowners not to bow to this pressure but to seek professional help and advice before making any agreement over their rents.
A large number of the 52,000 mobile phone mast sites in the UK are located in Scotland and Clarke said landowners should be aware of their bargaining power.
“Some estates in Scotland represent prime sites for mobile phone companies, as they are in the best possible locations suited to maintaining an efficient phone network.
“Some Scottish estates can be tens of thousands of acres in size, which gives mobile phone companies limited options for alternative sites for their masts.”