Clients contact CellWaves with a full range of needs. Just as soon as we think we have seen it all, we see something new from some wireless tenants taking advantage of unsuspecting landlords.
Tower Company Tried To Steal A Lease From Landlord. A savvy businessman who runs a manufacturing operation contacted us to find out why a tower company is offering him a onetime payment of $7,500 on top of his normal cell site lease for what appears to be out of nowhere. The contract he is required to sign doesn’t make any sense, but he thinks he has some type of obligation. The agreement was deceptively written to confuse anyone, but we did our homework and discovered that the tower company wanted to install another carrier on the property and needed Tony’s permission to do so. The $7,500 was intended to entice him to sign. Instead, we contacted the wireless carrier and negotiated a very large agreement that is worth more than a million dollars to Tony over the life of the lease. This is a demonstration of why relationships in the industry matters.
Wireless Carrier Threatened To Shut down The Cell Site If Not Renewed At Lower Rent. A real estate attorney who owns a 4-story building has a cell site on the roof that would expire in two years. The carrier insisted that the rent was too high and must be reduced or the carrier would deactivate the cell site and move elsewhere. At one year out, the carrier gave the attorney an ultimatum: sign the new lease now at a lower rent or they would build a site nearby. The attorney contacted us, wanting help with negotiating this renewal. He instructed us that a “win” for him would be to keep the rent at the same price. We conducted an engineering review of the area, studied the zoning code, evaluated the construction costs, and visited the area for suitable alternate sites if the carrier were to leave our client’s building. We concluded that it was not feasible for the carrier to replace the cell site and knew then that the wireless carrier’s leasing agent was being deceptive. We decided to let the lease expire. Upon expiration, we instructed the wireless carrier to remove their equipment immediately or pay twice the rent. The carrier had no choice but to comply as we had called their bluff. This is an extreme case because the engineering was obvious, and the wireless carrier was negligent in managing its contractor to allow them to be deceptive and too emotional with the negotiations. This demonstrates why having an experienced engineering staff, knowledgeable zoning experts, and a trusted construction team is invaluable in the service of our landlord clients.
When A Small Residential Subdivision Lot is Worth $750,000. Beverly contacted us because her farmland was being converted to high-end subdivision residential homes. In the middle of her farm is a giant, poorly built cell tower that was erected twenty-five years ago. She received nominal rent on the tower, and since the rent stream determines the lease buyback amount, the lump sum payout would be small. Since the tower was unsightly, however, it negatively affected the price of the new homes that were about to be built. Instead of selling the lease to Wall Street, we negotiated a deal where she sold the lot to the subdivision developer. The site and the tower’s demise were worth substantially more to the developer than any Wall Street funds could offer. This an example of the creative approaches we take to advance our clients’ interests.
Living a 20-Year Mistake. Mr. Stout, our landlord client, signed a wireless lease on his building, which he now regrets, but he signed the lease for twenty years, so what could he do? People are constantly coming to his property to replace equipment, fix gear, install generators, park heavy equipment, and swap out antennas day and night. He now realizes that not only was the rent horrible, but the terms were also equally bad. Mr. Stout contacted us asking if there was anything we could do. We studied the lease and discovered a number of technical violations. Of course, the carriers’ legal team denied everything, offering such defenses as statute of limitations, landlord acquiesced, and precedence setting practices, but in the end, we were able to bring the rent up to market value and altered certain terms that had been bothering Mr. Stout. Today, the carriers respect Mr. Stout’s property and pay him a market value rent that will be an important part of his retirement plan. If you make a leasing mistake, you may not have to live with it for the rest of the term. Better yet, don’t make the leasing mistake. Call us before you renew your wireless lease.
Corporations Don’t Take Advantage Of Little Old Ladies … Do They? Mary lives by herself and had been contacted by the tower company that owned the cell tower on her property, continually telling her that she must sell her lease. She had no idea what her tower was worth, but thought that in the past few months, they were not able to go “a penny more” because they would lose money if they paid another dime to her. We were shocked by how low a price they offered Mary and making her feel bad that they were losing money on her cell site (a common practice of telling landlords that wireless carriers were paying the tower companies less than they were having to pay the landlord for the ground lease after operational fees). Since Mary wanted to sell her lease, we found a buyer who was looking to collect cell towers like hers and was willing to pay a premium for it.
You Didn’t Pay For That! After twenty-five years of having a cell site on his property, Tom was tired of the wireless carriers on his roof. He just did not feel that the space he was giving up was worth the money he was getting. After a thorough review of the lease, we noticed that the wireless carrier had aggressively expanded the footprint of the equipment for the past twenty-five years. We agreed with our client that the carrier was taking up too much space, but instead of terminating the lease, we went for twenty-five years of back rent. It is true that the encroachment took place over time and the investigative work required to assemble all the engineering and construction drawings was extremely time consuming, but it was necessary for us to create a story of how and when the encroachment had taken place, and how money was owed to the landlord. In the end, the effort was well worth our time. Not only were we able to recover twenty-five years of back rent for our landlord, but we were also able to reset the future rent price to the newly calculated occupied space.
Anticipate Their Moves. Doug owns a 2-story building that is surrounded by 1-story structures. Normally, this is a very low site, and wireless carriers avoid these very low properties, but zoning laws, engineering restrictions, and construction limitations gave the wireless carrier few design choices. Throughout the negotiations, our landlord client was getting nervous because the carrier was taking a long time to move from one phase of negotiations to another. Each time he was willing to drop the rent amount to encourage the carrier to move faster. Fortunately, CellWaves had control of the situation, explained to the landlord the internal process of the wireless carriers, who were making the decision at the time, how they will make it, and the internal politics and tensions between the real estate, engineering, and legal departments. We used this knowledge and information to our advantage and were able to get just about all the terms we negotiated in the lease to the property owner’s advantage.
If you want a team of experienced wireless cell site experts protecting your interest, please contact us.