Property Owners: What You Need to Know About Cell Towers
In the past year alone, Varnum's national representation on cell lease matters has included clients from New England to Hawaii. With our extensive experience, we offer the following general rules every property owner who faces a cell lease issue should bear in mind:
- If you are selling property with a cell tower or antenna on it, first sell the cell tower lease and future leasing rights. Done properly, this is "found money" which should not affect the sales price of the balance of the property. With cell tower leases selling at 15 to 20 times annual revenues or more, this could bring in millions.
- If you are buying property that has a cell tower or antenna on it, have us look at the title work for lease or easement terms which may harm your use of the property. You may be paying too much, especially if the leased area has been sold off, the seller gets to keep all the rents under the lease and your use of the property is restricted.
- More generally, have us review cell tower leases, amendments and offers to buy leases/future leasing rights before you sign. Usually both (1) the rent/sales price can be improved and (2) harmful terms can be removed, such as those which may limit your future use and development of the property.
If you are facing any of these issues or others related to cell tower leases, please contact your Varnum attorney or John Pestle, chair of Varnum's Telecommunications Practice Team.
Varnum's cell tower lease practice recently completed two major projects: the $6.8 million sale of cell tower leases for the school district in a major U.S. city, and the completion of documents by which one of the largest urban counties in the nation will lease multiple antenna sites to a cell tower management company on a revenue sharing basis.
While we have the ability and experience to represent large clients in complicated deals, we more frequently help smaller property owners level the playing field in cell tower lease negotiations, securing better terms and rates for our clients. We represent businesses, developers, schools, churches, municipalities, real estate companies, condominiums, and other property owners. Cell companies negotiate tower leases every day. Property owners need someone equally experienced on their side.
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