Wednesday Dec 01, 2021

Frequently asked questions about mobile phone tower leasing

Q: Who are the carriers that could probably present me with a cell tower lease to negotiate on my property?

FOR: Generally, the wireless service provider will not directly present a cell tower lease to you. One of your real estate or wireless site acquisition managers will usually contact you first to assess your level of interest. You want to make sure before entering into a cell tower lease with any of the operating wireless service providers (ATT, Sprint-Nextel, US Cellular, Metro PCS, ClearWire, Verizon Wireless, Alltel, T-Mobile) or signing a contract With any of the big tower development or rooftop management companies (AAT, Crown, American Tower, SBA) doing their due diligence, but don’t wait too long.

Also, if you are lucky enough to be contacted by any of these firms, make sure that you or your attorney do not negotiate a cell tower lease. Often times, attorneys start to mark a lease just to get billable hours. If carriers have to waste a lot of time going back and forth, they will move to another site that is willing to do business, and then you will end up looking at the site instead of collecting rent from it.

Q: What should I look for in my cell phone tower lease?

FOR: A properly executed cell tower lease should protect your ground space rights, roof space rights, and address the sublease / sublease issues that many cell site owners often waste time. It will also include tax language to protect you from assessments. In addition, it is crucial to properly develop the site (tower height and available ground space) to allow for expansion and placement, which will increase the revenue of the cell tower. All cell tower lease display plans must be completed by a state licensed architectural engineering firm. I could write a list of a dozen things seasoned real estate attorneys regularly miss out on in cell phone tower leases, but then where’s the fun in that?

Q: I don’t know anything about zoning or construction project management, should I bother to have a cell site built on the roof of my building?

FOR: Haulers will not select your site if it is not feasible for development from a number of aspects, primarily zoning and a land use perspective. Only enter into a cell tower lease that puts the burden and expense of obtaining permits and approvals on the carrier or tower company, not you, the owner / lessor.

Q: What if cell phone towers become obsolete? What happens then?

FOR: Operators are heavily invested in the development of the wireless network. More than 70% of the US population uses cell phones. So if you hear rumors about a balloon, blimp, or satellite being used for cellular technology, don’t be fooled, cell phone towers are here to stay. We also didn’t stop using Sony Walkmans, now they just call them iPods, but people will always want personal music players, and the same applies to personal communication devices.

Q: How long will my cell tower lease last?

FOR: When you sign a cell tower lease, the lease term will initially be 5 years with two renewal terms in most cases, and an additional ten years after that. Since no one has a cell tower lease for 35 years so far, we can’t say how long they can be extended, but let’s assume your cell site leases will be extended as long as you own the site and the people own it. need. talk to each other on wireless devices.

Q: How much can you get for your cell tower lease?

FOR: Isn’t that always the big question … And our answer is that it depends on how much they need your site and where it is located? The closer to the heart of a major metropolitan area, the greater the demand for wireless coverage and capacity – and the more you can get. Rooftop sites vary from land leases. For example, in Columbus, Ohio, you might get $ 1,100 per month each for three haulers on your rooftop for a total of $ 3,300 per month. Whereas if you had a cell tower on your property in the same city, you could get $ 1,200 for the first carrier to build the tower, and additional carriers would pay rent to the first carrier to be located on your pole, and then each pays you $ 900 for space rights on the land, or a total of $ 3,000 per month.

Q: Shouldn’t my lawyer be able to guide us?

FOR: Leasing a cell phone tower is a very complex and specialized contract that leans heavily in favor of the cell phone operator. But think about it, it has to be this way. Getting a cell phone tower built on your property is like Donald Trump saying, “I’d like to have a little piece of your ground space and I’m going to build a structure on your property that will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in MI. expense, and it can potentially bring you $ 1 million to 2 million in rental income over a 25 to 30 year period if we can develop it properly. But I’ll only do this if the contract protects my investment. That, no hard feelings, the neighbor has 2,000 feet squares of space and I could use my retirement money. “

Now nothing against Mr. Trump, because he is an icon of success, but if you were to sign a deal with him, would you use an average lawyer or hire a top lawyer? And that’s where we find a talent shortage in the market. Those who can afford it hire an attorney who specializes in cell phone tower leases, those who can’t keep their fingers crossed and hope to get a good deal.

This is why developing and leasing cell phone towers on your own is a challenge and why homeowners who can find a partner to work with are well served in both the short and long term.

Q: How can I get a cell tower lease signed for a tower on my property or antennas placed on our roof?

FOR: Having an uncle working in the real estate department at one of the carriers is your best option. If that’s not an option, submitting your site to the operators directly gives you roughly a 1 in 1,000 to 1 in 10,000 chance for site selection.

Here’s our insider secret to getting a cell phone operator interested in your site, revealed for the first time anywhere. First, pray to the radio frequency gods. Then print a dozen 18 x 24-inch “bandit posters” on your property that say in bold “I want a cell phone tower on my property.” Your neighbors are likely to steal them, but keep them posted on your property in a conspicuous area. If a site acquisition consultant drives that way, you should get a call.

Last question … (Extra credit)

Q: What is the difference when signing a cell tower lease at $ 2,000 per month with annual increases of 2% vs. the same monthly rent amount with anticipated 3% increases over a 25-year cell tower lease period?

FOR: The difference is $ 132,000 over 25 years. WOW !! Are you happy or are you kicking yourself?

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