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Wireless Lease Negotiations: Privileges, Not Rights

My law firm professionals and I have negotiated hundreds of leases, lease modifications, agreements, ordinances, etc. over the years.  We repeated hear the wireless carriers talk about the ‘rights’ they must have.

Nope.  That’s not how it works for the savvy landlord.

We advise clients (and just about anyone else who will listen) that the wireless carrier is negotiating for privileges, not rights.

For example,

  • The very valuable privilege to have a lease extend for 25 or more years;
  • The very valuable privilege to deny the landlord virtually any means to get out of the lease;
  • The very valuable privilege for the carrier to get out of the lease on 30 to 60 days’ notice;
  • The very valuable privilege to take hundreds or thousands of square feet of land for sucker rents of as little as 10¢ per square foot;
  • The very valuable privilege to suspend rent for some casualty, even when the casualty is the due to the carrier;
  • The very valuable privilege to impose great duties on the landlord compared with those imposed on themselves; and
  • Many other valuable privileges that solely benefit the wireless carrier, most commonly to the detriment of the landlord.

You get the idea…the boilerplate deals offered by carriers are hardly equal or fair to landlords.  That’s a great reason to use an attorney who knows where the obvious (and the hidden) landmines are to be found in the documents, but I digress.

With the privileges the carrier seeks come payments to the landlord.  The greater the bundle of privileges, the greater the payment to the landlord for granting those privileges.

Only when the lease is executed do the privileges convert to rights. Not one second sooner!

Landlords negotiating with the carrier’s agent (and all the better if the landlord has competent legal counsel helping…ahem…) should carefully listen for the words and phrases ‘rights’ or ‘we need’ or ‘we must have’ when uttered by the negotiator for the carrier.  Every time that those words and phrases rear their ugly heads…and that will happy often…remind the rep that they are negotiating for privileges, which only convert to rights when the deal is done, fully valued, and the paperwork is fully executed.

The skill and mindset of the landlord’s negotiator for a cell site lease most often makes a huge difference in the result and value produced for the landlord.

We know that. Now you do, too.

Jonathan

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