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Cell Tower Lease Negotiations

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When a site acquisition agent working for a wireless company identifies those parcels in the Search Ring that are suitable for the location of a wireless tower, he attempts to contact the owner of the parcel. Most often this is done by knocking on the door of the landowner and asking if he’d be interested in leasing land for a tower. If the landowner is not home, the agent may leave a card or send a letter to the landowner listed at the county property assessor’s office.

The site acquisition agent’s main goal is to find a suitable candidate as quickly as possible. He will contact multiple landowners who have suitable parcels in an attempt to find one person who is interested and who he believes will act the fastest.

The agent will take GPS coordinate readings (latitude and longitude) at the property to take these back to the Radio Frequency Engineering department for confirmation that the chosen location works. If the engineers review the location and the site appears suitable, they will give the OK. The Site Acquisition Agent then contacts the landowner and starts negotiations.

Contrary to public belief, many wireless carriers do not tell their site acquisition agents a “starting” offer. The initial offers are at the discretion of the site acquisition agent, although there is a “cap” which he can not exceed without special reason. The initial offer may or may not be the best one the agent is capable of giving. This cap is a moving target and is not public information.

If you have been contacted to lease your property for a cell tower, it is in your best interest to move fast if you have even a remote interest in leasing your land. The site acquisition agent will contact many owners and will move forward with the first one who gets back to him.

Upon finding a landowner who is interested, the agent will verbally provide an initial lease rate offer that can range from a few hundred dollars or more. After coming to a verbal agreement on the terms of the lease, the agent will take the wireless carrier’s template lease and fill it in with pertinent information and give it to the landowner. The agent will most likely state that “time is of the essence.” And, in most cases, it is.

If there are multiple interested parties, the agent will be trying to identify which candidate will present the easiest route to a signed lease. He will proceed with the individual who is the least likely have the lease reviewed by an expert or a lawyer, because this process takes time. Please keep in mind however, that there is absolutely nothing wrong with retaining an attorney or an expert like Steel in the Air to assist you in lease negotiations. As the landowner, it is your responsibility that any hired expert or attorney moves fast so that the agent does not go to another landowner.

After the lease terms are negotiated and the final lease is created, both parties will be asked to sign the cell tower lease with the landowner going first. When the lease is signed, the process of acquiring local permits and meeting zoning regulations for a tower commences.

Please see our Cell Tower Site Zoning Process page for more information.

If you have come across this page and are looking for more information on how to renegotiate a cell tower lease or have been contacted by Cingular or AT&T to do so, please see our page on this process.