The current economic downturn of 2009 has carriers actively developing cell phone towers knowing that real estate is down and that financially strapped property owners may be willing to sign a fast lease. The NIMBY (not in my backyard) crowd that has been so opposed to cell towers is now willing to have that monopole built on their property in many cases.
However, let the buyer beware or rather in this case let the lessor beware. Carriers have ways of sneaking in language into their cellular phone tower leases that can directly impact the profitability of your cell site.
Here are some basic tips on what to do when dealing with wireless carriers:
o If approached by a cellular phone carrier looking to build a tower make sure you seek out professional wireless industry advice. Even a good real estate attorney might miss something in the agreement. Slight changes in wording can affect protection against tax assessments, subletting rights, and rental fees.
o If your tower company or carrier is trying to renegotiate terms with you because your cell tower lease is expiring after 15 or 20 years, they usually want to get you to sign quickly. Don’t budge. Chances are if you signed up for a cell tower in the early 1990’s, you agreed to language that seriously reduced your earnings potential on the site and you’re ready to cash in. Still, have an industry expert review and or negotiate the terms of your cell site lease.
o Also, there are a lot of wireless parasites who work on commission and try to squeeze landlords out of thousands of dollars a year on their cellular lease payments by giving them confusing and often times false information. If you’ve been approached by a cell tower rent reduction firm, tell them to stop harassing you. Mention the FCC or your local Attorney General and they will move onto the next cell phone tower site and they’ll most likely never darken your doorstep again.
Perhaps the funniest thing about the cellular phone tower NIMBY crowd, is that most of them have cell phones or blackberries, which occasionally ring during zoning board hearings. Property owners, it is imperative that before you enter into any lease with a company proposing cell phone towers that you read the fine print in their lease agreement.