Commercial cell tower leases often last for many years, even for decades. Our firm has seen leases lasting as long as 50 years. Often presented as an easy way for a landowner or building owner to make passive income, the lease forms presented by the cell tower company are generally extremely one-sided to the detriment of the property owner. It’s critical to negotiate and fully understand the terms and conditions of the cell tower lease you’re signing so that your property interests are adequately protected. The goal is to create a leasing arrangement which economically benefits both parties, creates certainty regarding each parties’ rights and obligations, and protects the property rights of the owner.
Cell tower leases in Colorado are often long, complicated legal documents, heavily siding in favor of the cell tower company. What is often most important in an initial draft of a cell tower lease is what is missing. Namely, restrictions and responsibilities for the cell tower company. The following is by no means a complete list of issues for a property owner to consider before entering into a cell tower lease, but it highlights some common points generally missing from the initial draft the cell tower company drops off:
Don’t be fooled by the idea of easy, passive income coming from a cell tower lease. Cell tower leasing companies are sophisticated business operations. Their leases are drafted with the cell tower’s best interests in mind. An uninformed, unrepresented property owner can be sorely surprised by the rights he/she gives up to the cell tower company. These are just a few of the key areas that a property owner should consider when negotiating a cell tower lease. We hope these have been helpful.
(Mallon Lonnquist Morris & Watrous, LLC, is a business, employment, real estate, and litigation law firm. Craig T. Watrous is a Colorado real estate attorney and partner at MLMW, based in Denver, Colorado. Craig regularly represents clients on both sides of real estate purchases. Craig can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and (303) 722-2165.)