Your Cell Tower Lease Agreement
If you’ve been approached by a wireless carrier, or site acquisition agent, about a cell tower lease agreement, you’ll need to practice discernment. These agreements pack a big punch, and are full of ramifications for the property owner. Make sure you have all the facts, and obtain support from a professional tower lease consultant at CellWaves. Having a CellWaves consultant negotiate for you can be the difference between a profitable agreement and a disastrous one.
What is so unusual about a cell phone tower lease agreement? They are completely different from your standard commercial or residential lease agreement, because the tenant is the one presenting the lease agreement to the property owner. You, as the landlord, will be presented with a set of terms and rules that you’re required to follow, in exchange for receiving a certain amount of rent.
If you’re contacted about a cell phone tower lease agreement, the best choice you can make is to call CellWaves to protect your interests. You have plenty to protect. Things like your access rights, noise, road damage, equipment storage, parking, turn around, safety, death/dismemberment risk issues, insurance, indemnifications, lighting, maintenance, property rights, change of ownership, co-location, traffic, upgrades, hours of operation, emergencies, signage, site restoration, and more. We haven’t even discussed financial terms yet.
Issues That May Arise
Many landlords focus primarily on the rent issue, and overlook all the non-financial terms. But these are crucial, and shouldn’t be neglected. Below are a few examples of things that can go awry with both financial and non-financial terms:
- Cell tower lease agreements that request too much land
It’s surprising, but 2,500 square feet of land is a lot of land for a cellphone tower. If it’s a rooftop cell tower, it would be a lot less. Don’t be misled into giving up your property rights by surrendering much more than is necessary. If you’ve already had a cell tower lease agreement for some time, you’ll want to make sure they’ve not grown into a bigger space than they were originally allotted. This is where a skilled negotiator–your CellWaves consultant–can protect your rights and ensure that the cell phone tower companies don’t overstep their boundaries.
- Excessive Duration of the Cell Tower Lease Agreement
Also be careful about the duration of the cell tower lease agreement. It may sound like a good thing to have a thirty year promise of rent, but it’s not likely to work that way. Most all cell tower lease agreements include an early termination clause, which can be exercised by the wireless carrier or tower company. But the landlord is stuck in the contract for the upcoming thirty years, while the wireless carriers or tower companies have the option of quitting at any time, with minimal notice. Only in rare instances would you provide extended duration on the lease.
- Right of First Refusal Clause
A big issue that comes up often in tower lease agreements is the Right of First Refusal (ROFR) clause. Over the past thirty years, wireless carriers have come up with some sneaky and clever ways to leverage their size and bargaining positions over unsuspecting landlords. This is one of those clauses they sneak in to severely limit a landowner’s property rights. Landlords who accept this term won’t feel the effect of the clause until an event happens to their property. Then, nearly every landlord regrets that they allowed it into their cell tower lease agreement.
What does Right of First Refusal mean? It is a contractual term that requires you to give notice to your wireless tenant (wireless carriers and tower companies) that you have received an offer for your property (possibly for your wireless lease or your building and land). Your wireless tenant has the right to match the offer, and you must sell it to the wireless tenant instead. In a standard ROFR clause, a wireless tenant will generally have twenty to sixty days to respond to your notice regarding whether or not they intend to match the offer. This will strongly discourage anyone from making an offer on your property. In all instances, this clause is an advantage for the tenant and a disadvantage for the landlord in several ways.
- Issues about Equipment
Other issues arise with equipment use and grant of rights. Sometimes overly broad language in a lease will allow a carrier to install or modify any equipment they wish, without consulting with the property owner about its appearance or size. This may negatively affect the value of your lease, property, and rights., effectively lowering its value. It could also include equipment being located in areas where you didn’t want it to be placed.
When you arrive on your property, you don’t want to be overwhelmed with an abundance of unsightly equipment. You want all measures taken to minimize the appearance of the equipment.
When working with a CellWaves consultant, you can rest assured that we will keep you informed of how the appearance of your property will be affected by the cell tower equipment. We’ll negotiate for the wording in your cell tower lease agreement that gives you advance notice and the ability to consent to major changes to the equipment being installed on your property. We basically keep our landlord clients in control of their property rights for the entire life of the wireless lease.
- Approvals and Compliance
Additional areas of concern could arise with approvals and compliance issues. As the property owner, you want to know that all the permits have been obtained by the carrier, so the work done on your property is safe and legal. The carrier should have inspections to ensure that the work done at your location poses no threat to anyone on the property. If your particular cell tower lease agreement is a rooftop installation, you have to think about tenants who reside or spend time in your building.
The carriers should also fall in line under FCC regulations, which includes radio frequency emissions. This is when a CellWaves consultant can provide their expertise, because they’re aware of all the guidelines that must be met in order for the operation to be legal and safe.
- Interference Issues
Interference could also be a major issue. The carriers will typically forbid the landlord from using any equipment that could cause interference with the cell tower and its related parts. They will want the landlord to investigate and determine the cause interference, which will cost landlords lots of money. In the tower lease agreement, terms should spell out what exactly will happen if interference occurs. It is hard to know what technological evolution will be many years from now, but to place the cost burden on the landlord is not going to happen to our clients.
Language can be included that would require the carrier to have a broad indemnity to cover the costs associated with claims of injuries from the radio frequency emissions issue.
- Relocation Needs
In some cases, problems may arise with relocation needs. For example, if you have a rooftop cell tower lease, this might happen if you need to repair the roof. Favorable terms can be negotiated, such as relocation with 90-day notice, carrier’s responsibility to restore the property when removing the equipment, and charging additional fees if the wireless carrier doesn’t remove their equipment by the deadline.
No one wants to face a relocation issue, especially not the wireless carrier. But part of using a professional consultant means preparing for all scenarios. If a problem arises, you’ll be thankful that the cell tower lease agreement was worded to protect you in this event.
- Subleasing and Co-location
Tower companies are motivated to lease as large of a space from landlords as possible. Then the load up as many of their tenants as possible on the property (tower, monopole, monopine, rooftop, lattice tower, ground space,etc.). They often do this without telling the landlords their plans. Why not? Because the Lease Agreement never required them to do so. In fact, it is common that many landlords become so frustrated with the relationship and arrangement because over the years, more equipment, noise, light, cars, trucks, crews, technicians, serviceman, climbers, etc. access the wireless property freely all hours of the day working on the cell site. And what did the landlord receive in return for this increased burden on their property? That all depends on how well the Landlord negotiated the lease agreement, and which professional helped with the negotiations.
- Insurance and Indemnities
Another area for potential problems is about insurance and indemnities. Most leases will require the carrier to have insurance, but it might not be adequate to protect the landlord. Your cell tower lease agreement should require that liability and property insurance exists, and in amounts that are reasonable and adequate. The landlord should also have the ability to increase these amounts over the duration of the agreement.
Many large companies can self-insure. In this case, you’ll want to ensure that the agreement includes various additional conditions. These would include commercially reasonable limits, a claim management process that works well, and a limit on the amount that can be self-insured.
Likewise, contractual indemnities are a crucial part of any cell tower lease agreement. The typical cell tower lease agreement often puts the indemnity obligations on the landlords, when the carriers are in a better position to control the risks. It’s reasonable to expect a wireless carrier to indemnify the landlord, along with his or her heirs and agents, against any type of damage or injury caused by the carrier’s use of the property. You’ll frequently find that the standard agreements don’t fully address all these areas.
Termination can arise for many landlords who have cell tower lease agreements. Generally, the wireless carriers and tower companies have given themselves a way out of the lease. Many things could occur to make termination an alternative, but it frequently happens due to a merger or acquisition. There may be the possibility of negotiating for a reasonable termination fee, if this were to occur. It could also be beneficial to negotiate for a longer notice.
You don’t want to navigate this technical and complex agreement alone. The wireless carriers and the tower companies have their own team of experts, backing them throughout the entire process. You can have your own support, by employing a representative of CellWaves. The staff at CellWaves possess insider and industry-specific knowledge that will prove invaluable during your cell tower lease negotiation process.
Components of a Cell Tower Lease Agreement
Some key elements are included in a typical cell tower lease agreement, although they may vary somewhat. When you’re seeing the completed document, it may be 50-pages or more. It definitely helps to have a consultant who knows what to watch for. Here are some of the key elements of a typical cell tower lease agreement:
- Explanation of Rent
Many landlords put a great emphasis on this issue, to the detriment of other, equally important, ones. The rent you’ll receive, as a landlord, will vary widely. Some of the issues that affect it are competition from other locations able to meet the wireless carrier’s needs, construction costs, ease of access to construction, potential and current wireless customers in the area who would benefit from the cell tower’s construction, location that is ideal for a cell tower, i.e. not a lot of trees to block signals, etc.
Just because someone in the same area receives a certain price for their cell tower lease, it doesn’t mean that you will receive a comparable price. There are too many variables. It takes someone with expertise in the area–like a CellWaves tower lease consultant–to truly know what your property is worth to the wireless carrier or tower company.
One important thing to note about rent is that getting the maximum price that the wireless carrier will give doesn’t always translate into more money over the long-term.
Although CellWaves consultants negotiate for the landlords to receive fair market value for their property, you want the tower company or wireless carrier to continue using the tower on your property for a reasonable time period. If they felt pressured into paying significantly more than they wanted, they may use the termination clause at the first available opportunity.
- Agreement over Co-location Fees and Subleasing
One carrier pays another carrier a co-location fee when the original tenant subleases a portion of land to another. You would benefit greatly from speaking to a CellWaves consultant when it comes to subleasing being included in your cell tower lease agreement. Many landlords do not understand the significance of this event and lose out for 20 years. CellWaves consultants, having been industry insiders from the start, will know how to turn these events to revenue-producing opportunities for our Clients.
- Duration of the Lease
the typical cell tower lease begins as a five-year term. Then, there are options to renew for a series of automatic subsequent five-year terms, often for a maximum of 25-30 years.
This sounds very appealing to the landlord, with a constant flow of income for years at a time. Unfortunately, with frequent changes in the industry, some of the towers will be rendered as unnecessary. That’s when the wireless carriers opt to use the early termination clause. This will end the lease but how will they exit and what are their obligations as to the existing structures, conduits, cables, concrete, fencing, etc. Much to many landlords’ surprises, they were unprepared for carriers just walking away and leaving all that demolition to the landlords. Some smarter leases put languages that appear to place the responsibilities on the carriers to remove the equipment when in fact the language can be read that they don’t have to. Doing this on your own can be very risky.
Longer lease duration may be a good leasing strategy, but what is the landlord getting out of this arrangement. A properly negotiated wireless lease must weigh the cost/benefit of all terms offered to the wireless carriers or tower companies. Too often, inexperienced consultants and landlords give away the farm because the lease term looks good, not knowing that they have just given away the farm on other revenue opportunities.
- Carrier’s Access To The Property
A carrier will frequently request 24/7 access to the property that houses the cell tower, whether there is an emergency or not. With negotiations, you might be able to shorten this to business hours only, except with an emergency. It’s going to depend on how valuable your property is to the wireless carrier or tower company, as to whether they’ll even budge on this issue. Having a CellWaves consultant can increase your chances of a favorable term.
The carrier highly values this particular part of the cell tower lease agreement, because providing cell phone service to their customers is the primary reason for the tower’s existence. If interference affects its signal or equipment, they’ll want to fix the problem quickly. They will, however, not want to be financially responsible for remedying the problem causing interference. This section of the lease agreement can be a very important one, for both parties. Knowing which type of interference, FCC’s regulations defining interfering sources, etc. are very important to have on your side. Experience, confidence and credibility allow CellWaves negotiators to define the terms for our clients rather than being told what the terms would be by the wireless carriers or tower companies. That’s why having a CellWaves consultant to look out for your interests makes so much sense.
- Early Termination Clause
Multiple reasons could arise to make a wireless carrier seek to end the contract, and that’s why the clause is most often included. Some of the issues that could make the contract no longer workable include a merger with another company, interference making the cell tower site unusable, the carrier losing their license, or technological advances require changes to equipment. An experienced negotiator will make it difficult for wireless carriers to terminate early. This part is also very important, for the landlord, because it protects their rights if anything happens to make the wireless carrier no longer desire their property.
- Explanation of Use
This section of the cell tower lease agreement covers what the property will be used for. It could be written in two different ways. In one way, it would simply describe the way the land and/or rooftop property will be used. In the other way, it will put limits on what can happen on the property. Generally, the second type of wording would be more specific, and likely benefit the landlord.
If this is for a new construction, and the wireless carrier is highly motivated to use your site, you could often negotiate this where the wireless carrier isn’t performing a bunch of superfluous activity on your property. A well-crafted provision, in this area, would limit the carrier’s activity to merely the basics. Those would be constructing the tower, performing maintenance, and operating it.
Those narrow provisions would need to apply to any sub-lessees also. It would give the landlord more control over their own property.
When You Already Have a Lease Agreement
Even if you’ve already signed a lease agreement, it’s not completely hopeless for changing the terms. CellWaves helps our clients make changes all the time, including for increased financial gain. However, carriers won’t hand out more money or rights without receiving something in return. This is where CellWaves’ expertise and experience will be of tremendous benefit to landlords in getting the desired results. The greatest opportunity to correct the past decades of negotiations mistakes is when the existing lease is coming up for renewal. If your lease was signed some 20 years ago, and the carriers (tower companies) are looking for lease renewals, then this is likely your last chance in the your lifetime to correct that mistake and set everything correct with CellWaves’ help.
Common Negotiation Pitfalls
Property owners often focus on rent amounts and end up missing out on significant values in their lease. In doing so, they effectively tell the carriers such as AT&T and Verizon and tower companies (Crown Castle and American Tower) that you as landlord are willing to trade everything else for increased rent.
Unfortunately, in every wireless lease agreement, there are some 15 very significant financial and non-financial terms that must be negotiated. Without knowing which terms are important, the implications of each, what to ask for, how long to ask for, the industry norm, and consequences of each, many landlords come to us after the damage has already been done.
- Example of a Negotiation Pitfall
In 2017, a landlord sent us a copy of their lease to review. The landlord recently renewed the lease until 2047. It was a 30-year commitment for a rent amount so low we seldom see it anymore. The contract with this tower company restricted the landlord from ever selling his/her property without presenting the transaction to the tower company for their approval. They have the choice of interfering with this transaction by “matching” the terms. In reality, this basically destroyed future property value for the landlord because no buyers would be silly enough to spend the time to make a serious offer knowing that the tower company will just intervene. They could do this because the tower company has the right of first refusal. This means no sales are authorized unless and until it is presented to the tower company for their review and match.
There are so many innocent-looking contract terms and clauses that destroy the property values for landlords. Don’t do this alone. Seek help. Send CellWaves your lease and let us review how you could maximize its value before you sign anything else. You, as with all of our other clients, will be happy you made the call.
Lease Modification and Consent Requests
While many cell tower lease agreements make allowance for general maintenance, the wireless carriers may be seeking to make modifications that the lease never allowed for. Many modifications would require both parties to agree to an amendment of the current lease agreement, depending on the wording when it was originally written.
Some examples of modifications that might be suggested include adding antennas and radios, very large and heavy batteries, generators, adding devices to handle LTE traffic, or run new dish antennas on your property.
A main reason why a modification is requested has to do with data traffic. There is an ever increasing need for more capability in this area.
It’s not uncommon for a landlord to receive contact from a wireless carrier or tower company representative, downplaying the significance of the modifications being suggested. Even if they suggest an amendment to your lease, you should still exercise caution.
Issues to Watch for Regarding Modifications
If an agent of the wireless carrier approaches you about “routine” modifications, don’t assume that you have no input about the issue. Cell tower lease agreements should spell out specific information about modifications, including what changes are allowable. Your CellWaves team offers availability to review any proposed changes, so your interests are protected. Some key questions should be addressed regarding any modification to current cell tower equipment.
Some areas to pay attention to include the following questions:
- What exactly will be altered on my property?
- How will the equipment be modified? How many antennas? How large?
- How will this impact my ability to sell the land later?
- How will this affect my rent?
- What can be changed, in the future, without the consent of the property owner?
- How does this affect the structural loading and wind load of my roof?
- How much more noise will be added to my property?
- How much more vehicular traffic from technicians will the additional equipment generate?
Are You Required To Approve Site Upgrades and Modifications?
Have you been approached by a wireless carrier asking for your permission to modify/upgrade their equipment configurations on your rooftop or from a tower company to extend your cell tower lease? Wireless tenants will always make it appear that these are standard requests and will make it very easy for you to sign the bottom of the page, but the implications of your agreeing to these changes can be extremely significant for years to come. Moving too quickly without having an expert explain your options can cost average landlords significant amounts of money. Our team of lease experts used to work for the other side, so we know what is at stake and can help you maximize the opportunity to reevaluate your contract.
“What Are They Doing To My Property?”
Ask yourself this question: “Do I truly understand what they are doing to my property?” If your property has evolved to become a major cellular traffic hub and additional equipment and lease extensions are required to preserve that advantage for your wireless tenant, are you being fairly compensated for it? How will you know what represents fair compensation? What you historically received is a poor indicator of market value unless you know the extent of cellular traffic and data capacity and what other landlords of similar properties/locales/traffic are receiving in rent. If you are not sure, then don’t do this alone. Let us help you clarify what is fair in your specific situation.
We often find that tower companies and wireless carriers insert additional terms limiting landowners’ rights, secretly hiding them in plain sight. For example, a wireless carrier innocently put in a Most Favored Lessee clause. On its face, it is innocent enough until another carrier comes on to your property and negotiates a lower rent because the equipment conditions are different. They may have more advanced equipment that requires fewer field visits, fewer antennas, lighter equipment, or less space. All of a sudden, you are now required to open your books to allow the existing carrier to audit what your new rent agreement is with the new carrier. They will demand that you lower your rent to match the new carrier’s lower rent. What happens when the new carrier leaves after a few years? Are you able to get the old carrier back to a higher price? Not likely.
The point is that by agreeing to a dozen of these new terms that carriers and tower companies have included in the past decade you have unknowingly put yourself at a serious disadvantage, which is why you should not negotiate these technology/property leases by yourself. Even those landlords who are represented by lawyers still encounter certain nuisances because most lawyers do not understand wireless technology and its evolution as we do. We find that working in conjunction with your lawyer, combining our industry expertise with the legal representative that you trust, will give you ultimate protection and advantage in negotiating any lease extensions and modifications with wireless carriers and tower companies.
Example of Deceptive Signing Bonus
A landowner received a letter from a wireless carrier, offering him $7,500 for apparently no reason. The landowner was very happy to have received this letter offering him free money. But the landowner, a savvy financial professional, knew that the money must have come with a catch, so he contacted us for advice. For the next few weeks, we thoroughly performed our homework in the area and discovered that a new carrier was looking at building a new cell site on our client’s property and needed ground space for equipment and a new tower because the existing one was full.
Fortunately, we stopped this and got 100% of new tower rent for the landlord. We instructed our client to reject the $7,500 and ignore the tower company’s offer entirely. We then engaged in direct negotiations with the wireless carrier, resulting in substantial monthly lease revenue for our client. Over the course of thirty years, the revenue stream is worth millions to our client. If he chooses to sell his lease immediately, we could have secured Wall Street investor bids to obtain the highest lump sum payment for him. Had he taken the $7,500 offer, he would have lost it all. This is an example of why landlords should never do this alone.
Know Your Limits
We have assisted very sophisticated commercial property owners correct serious mistakes on leases they had signed even decades ago on many of their buildings. While they know real estate, we know wireless technology. If real estate lawyers and experienced commercial property owners are frequently unable to negotiate the best terms for themselves, what is the probability that you will be successful in getting the maximum wireless value out of your property?
In so many areas of life, you consult an expert. If it’s physical health, you would speak to a doctor. If it’s concerning the law, you would consult with an attorney. We don’t keep you in the dark regarding your cell tower lease agreement. We highly value communication with our clients. We simply want to offer up our expertise, experience, and industry-specific knowledge to help you through this process. We’re passionate about achieving good outcomes for our clients.
A CellWaves client, Mr. Satish Patel, controls over a dozen coveted hotels in one of the most expensive cities in the world, and he has this to say about us: Having CellWaves represent us was “far more beneficial than most property owners may appreciate.”
What Constitutes an Ideal Cell Tower Lease Agreement
Most things about a cell tower lease agreement are negotiable, especially when you’re employing a competent CellWaves consultant to bargain with the wireless carrier or tower company. But, some things make for an especially profitable and beneficial agreement for the landlord.
The first thing involves the compensation the property owner receives, in the form of rent. The value of the property, to the wireless carrier or tower company, doesn’t come from typical factors that affect the value of real estate. Value is determined by what the wireless carrier/tower company receives from the site, in benefits for their services to customers.
A landlord would expect to see an increase in rent any time something happens to increase the value of the property to the wireless carrier. This could include a subtenant being brought in, as well as upgrades to the equipment.
You would also expect rent escalations to occur, either every year or at the renewal period. These will be based on the value of the cell site to the wireless carrier or tower company. But, many times, these escalations don’t even keep up with inflation. We have the expertise and experience to negotiate what is fair for our clients in this area.
Another beneficial aspect of a good cell tower lease is flexibility. When you think about it, you are promising the use of your property for an extended time period. It’s easy for the wireless carrier/tower company to use the termination clause, but the landlord typically has no way out of the contract.
Normally, it’s not a flexible plan for the landlord. But, your experienced CellWaves consultant would anticipate some potential trouble areas, and work with the wireless carriers to include some provisions in the cell tower lease agreement to cover any potential pitfalls that are anticipated.
An example might involve termination. If the wireless carrier chooses to terminate, perhaps the lease could specify that an adequate fee is paid to the landlord.
Insurance and Other Liability Issues
The lease should include issues such as insurance, and who pays, as well as liability for various issues that may arise. Not only that, but a CellWaves consultant will help you negotiate for what else might be in the future, including your wishes to sell or transfer the property to someone else.
The wireless carriers and tower companies will often include wording in the cell tower lease agreement to hinder the landlord from selling his or her property, especially by the Right of First Refusal Clause. At CellWaves, we believe in protecting a landlord’s right to sell their own property, and will negotiate with the wireless carriers to protect this interest.
Consider the Total Cost
As important as additional income is to most any property owner, you have to consider the expense that doesn’t necessarily appear as dollar signs. The wireless carriers and tower companies are counting on landlords willing to waive their rights for the elusive promise of rent dollars. At CellWaves, we help you achieve both: a fair price for your property, in addition to non-financial terms you can live with for the long-term.
Value of Your Existing Cell Tower Lease Agreement
If you already have an agreement with these wireless carriers or tower companies, don’t underestimate the value of this agreement. It’s no small feat to be approved for a cell tower on your property, and the wireless carriers don’t take the investment lightly, either.
It can cost over $250,000 to build a tower, when you include the engineering, surveying, environmental tests, zoning costs, architectural designs, structural tests, equipment, labor, etc. Even though the early termination clause can be exercised, it may be difficult to find another property that meets the exact specifications as yours. Engineering design criteria have precise guidelines for how close together the towers are supposed to be, among other things.
The wireless carrier or tower company can receive additional income by allowing other wireless carriers to be additional subtenants on their tower. This can significantly increase the amount of money they receive, which will deter them from wanting to move elsewhere.
If it’s been negotiated into the original lease, the property owner can often sell the property for a single lump sum value today, instead of waiting to receive the money for the next 30 years. Although keeping the property, and receiving the rent from the cell tower lease, may result in even more income for the long-term.
Amendments to the Cell Tower Lease
Be very cautious about amendments to the lease, as they often curtail the property owner’s ability to sell the property later. It may be fine print that requires analysis, but often an amendment contains something unfavorable for the landlord. Your CellWaves consultant has expertise in negotiating cell tower lease modifications, so it will be a great benefit to have their team on your side with this issue.
If agreement is reached about modifying the antennas or other equipment, make sure detailed, professional drawings explain what work will be done, so there will be no surprises.
Don’t agree to an amendment reducing the rent, or making other changes, because of a claim of “too many towers.” They might even threaten to stop using your property. This is when a skilled negotiator, such as your CellWaves consultant, can get to the bottom of the issue.
Benefits of Site and Lease Audits
Breaches are common
Most wireless leases are in compliance with the cell tower lease agreement at the start, but over the years, they fall out of compliance. This is to the detriment of property owners. It happens because of site expansion and modifications that grew outside the original lease parameters.
Through tower sales, property management, mergers and acquisitions, and dozens of different contractors working on the site over the years, it is very safe to assume that subsequent contractors and even new owners of the tower or the lease rights holders do not have access to that original lease agreement the wireless carriers had with the original property owner.
Consequently, contractors do what they want and how they want without any considerations to encroachments, breaches, or payments as may have been contemplated in the original Lease Agreement years or even decades ago.
A Thorough Review of All Lease and Modification Documents
Our lease experts assume nothing. We look at everything that was originally agreed to between the wireless carriers and our property owner clients. We look at what is now on your property. We then study all the site plans, engineering drawings, construction details, and any modification requests that were approved by you. We investigate anything that looks out of place by requesting the carriers to provide documents supporting authorization for such installations. This is just one of the areas of an audit that we conduct on every lease to ensure that over the years new equipment is not installed without the proper required approval by and compensation to our wireless landowner clients.
Over the years, we have seen it all – from carriers using twice the space they originally contracted to occupy, improperly tapping into landlords’ power for twenty years of free electrical usage, and other technical breaches. We conduct many other areas of an audit to ensure that our clients are treated fairly and equitably by wireless carriers or tower companies.
We always start by investigating, discovering, and documenting these breaches. We explain to our clients precisely the issue, the timeline, what we believe the breach is, and what we think the monetary value is to our clients as a result of these breaches. We then engage in the collection process, which is painstaking in working our way through the wireless carriers’ or tower companies’ corporate structure to demonstrate our findings.
We are often directed to their legal staff whose first response is to always deny our claims on various legal grounds, but we know the process. We understand technology evolution, and we happily work with their legal counsel to demonstrate why it is in the carrier’s’ best interest to resolve these matters fairly with our clients.
It is not uncommon for us to recover tens of thousands of dollars per lease from wireless carriers for rooftop breaches, which range in depth, breadth, duration, valuation, and complexity, but our commitment to resolve these breaches remains the same. We level the playing field by bringing our industry insider expertise and experience to represent our wireless property owner landlords.
The Cell Tower Lease Process
It can be a complex process, negotiating such an important agreement. How fast or slow we move, at CellWaves, depends on the advantage to our clients. In some specific situations, moving at a certain speed is essential to advance our clients’ interests. Moving too quickly can show desperation, but moving too slowly shows lack of interest. The key is knowing the correct pace that syncs with the carriers’ development, while knowing when to stop the process to get what we need for our clients.
Carriers, represented by contractors, will treat the CellWaves team differently than they would a property owner. They know who we are, our experience and credentials in the industry, and won’t waste time with low balling offers, or making incorrect statements about the industry or the worth of a site.
Because of the experience and tenure our leadership has with the wireless companies, we often are the most knowledgeable and informed people in all transactions, and are in control of the negotiations’ directions and tone.
But generally speaking, a correctly negotiated lease can take 9 months to complete, with construction starting some months after that. We may be able to affect the duration, but we only do so when in our clients’ interests.
While having a cell tower on your property poses many benefits, property owners should be aware of the risks associated with the equipment. Not only that, but the wireless carrier or tower company doesn’t necessarily have your bests interests in mind. Their goal is profit. Their employees are often paid bonuses for getting you to agree to the most unfavorable terms. Unfavorable for you – profitable for them. We can’t emphasize enough that you’ll have peace of mind about your terms, your rent, and your overall experience, when you employ the team at CellWaves. Contact us today for more information.