Renegotiating a Cell Tower or Cell Site Lease
Every week, landowners contact us with concerns that they, or the previous landowner, poorly negotiated the cell site lease to receive far too little rent. Unfortunately, in some cases, we find they are correct.
The issue is compounded by the fact that thousands of cell site leases and agreements from towers built in the mid- 1990s are set to expire soon. Though the majority of current cell tower leases provide for multiple five- or ten-year terms -- renewable entirely at the discretion of the wireless carrier or the tower company -- many of those older cell tower leases don't have an automatic renewal clause.
If Your Cell Site Lease Has No Renewal Clause:
If there is no renewal clause on your current sell site lease, then you're probably in a good position to renegotiate. Depending on the location of the site and number of tenants using the tower, you might be able to ask for substantially more revenue or take ownership of the tower to receive additional revenue from other tenants.
We recommend that you first consult an attorney like Cell Tower Attorney to determine what your responsibilities are under your current cell site lease. Then feel free to contact us so we can help you determine what the best course of action is when renegotiating your cell site lease.
You can try to manage this all yourself; however there is some risk that if you ask for too much that the tower company or wireless carrier might decide to relocate their tower or cell site, leaving you with no revenue. Or, you may fail to negotiate the best deal and end up leaving money on the table every month. See our lease chart to see how much of a difference even $100/month can mean over the course of a cell site lease.
If Your Cell Site Lease Has a Renewal Clause or Has Not Yet Expired:
In most cases, you won't be able to renegotiate, even if you believe the cell site lease rate is unfair. Many contracts, especially those written in the last five years, are airtight from a legal standpoint and don't allow termination by you, the landlord. If, however, the company is currently in default of the cell site lease, than you can use whatever legal remedies are available to you under terms of the lease and the laws of that state.
Common breaches of cell site leases include:
- Failure to pay rent
- Use of the ground outside the lease area
- Use of equipment or structures that are not covered under the lease
- Subletting or assignment that is not allowed under the cell site lease
Contact Cell Tower Attorney if you believe that your tenant has breached your lease. If you have already checked with your attorney and they believe your contract has been breached, contact us to see if we may be able to help you renegotiate your agreement.
If Your Cell Site Lease is with American Tower or Crown Castle and Has A Renewal Clause or Has Not Yet Expired:
If your lease is with American Tower or Crown Castle, there may be an opportunity to renegotiate the terms of the agreement starting now. Both companies have expressed interest in extending their leases. Although they typically initially only offer a nominal up front signing bonus, both companies will agree to rent increases starting now in many cases.
For information specific to Crown Castle Leases, please click on our CROWN CASTLE LEASE EXPIRATION PAGE. For information specific to American Tower leases- please see our page on American Tower Lease Expirations and Extensions.