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Squatting on Your Land

Tower Lease 101 > Squatting on Your Land

Wireless Carrier Squatting on Your Land

An important part of lease negotiations is to understand a project’s timing. This is crucial to our strategy because some carrier leases will offer to squat on your land indefinitely without any form of restriction or compensation. Wireless cellular tower leases may subtly state that “Rent payment shall commence upon the installation of equipment.” The problem is there is no time limit on how long the property owner must wait for this equipment installation. We often have property owners approach us for help several years after having signed the lease with the cell tower nowhere in sight. This lease term says the wireless carrier has a perpetual right to build a tower on your property at an unspecified time in the future without limitations. This makes it extremely difficult for you to sell your land later because of the perpetual obligation against the property that cannot be removed. A prospective buyer of that land does not want to purchase a property that has an indeterminable obligation against it without any form of compensation. This is one of the dangers of signing a lease that has deceptive language with serious consequences that may not appear until years later. Inexperienced landlords and their consultants often miss these types of clauses because they do not understand how tower developers or wireless carriers operate. And this is just one of the 30 clauses in a typical cell tower contract. 

Sneaky Contract Term Fools Many “Expert” Consultants

Cell Tower Development Timeline

While negotiating and managing a tower development project (broader than just negotiating a cell tower lease) Terabonne’s staff is always mindful of the development life cycle, budget year, on-air target, coverage objectives, and engineering guidelines. This is crucially important because we need to help get the project approved at every stage of the review process. Failing any one of the gating processes can kill a project. That is why we consider a cell tower opportunity to be a project to which lease negotiations is merely one of the many milestones. Property owners mistakenly believe all they need is to negotiate the cell tower lease and discover years later that the project mysteriously was cancelled. They call it bad luck. We call it a bad hiring decision and poor project management. And since we are always mindful of the timeline, we are aware of contract terms that grant too much time, intentionally or unintentionally, that can have consequences for our clients. Hire experience because it matters.

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A ROFR grants the tower owner the right to match an offer by some third party who makes an offer to purchase your lease that you accept.

Crown Castle, American Tower ATC, SBA Towers are the “Big Three” tower companies.

Attorneys retained by wireless carriers authorized to review legal terms but never allowed to negotiate financial nor technical terms of the lease because they lack the technincal skills.

A person who specializes in land use matters well knowledgeable in its jurisdictional requirements.

A person hired by the wireless carrier to contact property owners to discuss lease terms. This role has evolved to be landlord facing rather than lease negotiations.

Geographical areas depicted in a circle (ring) drawn by radio frequency (RF) engineers defining the areas requiring new cell towers and technical parameters surrounding such designs.

Companies who build towers and lease back to wireless carriers.  These companies almost always receive Search Rings from wireless carriers defining where carriers need towers to be built.

Radio Frequency engineers who specialize in the radio wave propagation. These are the engineers to define cell tower locations. 

Companies that purchase cell tower leases with the purpose of repackaging (aggregating) them in a larger portfolio and selling them for a profit at a later time.