Approached by a Wireless Carrier or Cell Tower Company to Build a Cell Tower on Your Building or Property?

Have you been approached by someone offering to lease a portion of your property or rooftop on behalf of Verizon, Cingular, Sprint Nextel or other cell site carrier? These “site acquisition specialists” or “leasing agents” are similar to real estate brokers. Their job is to search a given geographical area for potentially eligible locations for the placement of antennas and associated equipment to provide cell phone coverage to subscribers of a given cell site carrier.

The following is an overview of some of the important provisions of the typical cell site lease and the issues faced by a landowner:

  1. Rent- this is the amount of rent the cell site carrier is willing to pay for the right to use your property.
  2. How much should this be? What are the factors that the carriers consider most important when deciding what to offer a landowner for the use of his or her property? In addition to basic rent, are there other forms of compensation that may be available to the landowner? How soon after signing the lease should I expect to start seeing rent payments?

  3. Lease Term and Commencement- this paragraph specifies the date in which the lease actually commences and length of the term.
  4. How long should the term be? Should either party have the option to extend the term and if so, for how long of a period of time?

  5. The Premises- this paragraph describes the specific premises leased to the wireless carrier and typically includes a lease exhibit and a survey.
  6. What should be included on the lease exhibit and does it accurately reflect the property involved?

  7. The “Use” Paragraph- this paragraph describes the particular manner in which the property will be used by the cell site carrier.
  8. How broad should the use be and what should be specified? Are there unique characteristics of the property that justify narrowing the use? Are there currently other tenants on the property to whom the Landowner has obligations? Does the landowner anticipate any other future tenant or other uses for the property?

  9. Access – this paragraph describes the hours in which the carrier will be entitled to conduct its operations on the property.
  10. What are reasonable hours of operation? Are there security issues on the property? Do the proposed hours of operation increase the landowner’s exposure to potential liability?

  11. Utilities and taxes- this section describes how utilities will be provided to the leased premises and how taxes will be paid.
  12. How will utilities be brought to the carrier’s leased premises and how and when will they be paid? Who should be responsible for taxes assessed on the property and how and when will they be paid?

  13. Interference- perhaps one of the most important provisions of the lease from the carrier’s perspective, this section outlines the party’s obligations in the event of interference with the landowner, carrier or another third party use of the property.
  14. How should interference be defined under the lease? In the event there is interference, how should it be remedied and at whose expense?

  15. Termination- this paragraph states the conditions under which the parties may terminate the Lease.
  16. Under what conditions should the parties have the right to terminate the Lease? How much notice should be provided?

  17. Insurance/Indemnification- this section states the insurance requirements required by both parties and outlines the liabilities for circumstances that may arise during the term.
  18. How much insurance is appropriate given the proposed use of the premises? What, if any, insurance should the landowner be required to maintain? How will this impact any existing insurance carried by the landowner on the property?

  19. Assignment/Sublease- this describes the cell site carrier’s ability to assign or sublet the Lease.
  20. Under what circumstances should the carrier be allowed to assign the Lease or sublet the leased premises? Is the landowner adequately protected in the event of such an assignment or sublease? Can the landowner restrict the carrier’s right to assign or sublease? Under what circumstances should the landowner be allowed to assign or transfer the Property or leased premises?

  21. Equipment Removal and Restoration- this section addresses the obligations of the carrier after the lease has expired.
  22. When should the carrier’s equipment be removed and in what condition should the property be left? What happens to the equipment if it is not removed?

These are merely a handful of some of the important lease provisions facing landowners when considering a cell site lease. Cell Tower Attorney can assist you in negotiating these important issues to help protect your interest in its property as well as maximize your return for a cell site lease.

Contact us for more information.

If you have been approached to lease your land for a cell tower, our partner company Steel in the Air can also be of service. They are experts at determining the fair market value for a cell tower on many types of properties.

*** If you are looking for a carrier's website, you can find them at: Sprint Nextel - www.sprint.com, Verizon - www.verizon.com, or AT&T Cingular - www.att.com. We are not affiliated in any way with the carriers.***