At&t Cell Tower Lease

AT&T has approximately 75,000 cell sites and another 50,000 to 75,000 small cells across the country. On an annual basis, we estimate that AT&T leases between 1,500 and 2,500 new sites. In 95%+ of these situations, AT&T is leasing the land or access to a tower, building, or other structure. These AT&T cell site or cell tower leases are valuable. If you have come to this page looking to get a lease with AT&T or have mistakenly found our page while trying to contact AT&T, please note that Steel in the Air is not connected with AT&T. You can find information about how to contact AT&T Network Real Estate here.

AT&T Mobility is the merger company of multiple other companies over the last 30 years, including Bell South, part of Alltel, Cingular, Dobson, and Cricket.

Renegotiating Cell Site Leases

What is an AT&T Cell Tower Lease?

It is a legal agreement between AT&T and a landowner that defines the rights and obligations each party has regarding the placement of a cell tower on the landowner’s property. The lease is typically for a fixed period. AT&T and other wireless carriers prefer to enter leases as opposed to buying property, due to the lower upfront investment and the lower costs and maintenance for leased property.

Contact Us

    What Are the Key Parts of a AT&T Cell Tower Lease Agreement?

    AT&T’s typical wireless tower lease works like this:

    1. The landowner agrees to lease a portion of land (i.e., the “lease area”) to AT&T for the placement of a tower. For a self-support or monopole type tower, the lease area is generally 100’ x 100’ or less. For a guyed tower, the lease area may be up to a few acres due to the guy anchors. See our page on types of cell towers for more information. 
    2. The lease includes an exhibit which shows the specific location on the property for the “tower lease area” also sometimes referred to as a “compound.” AT&T adds language to their lease which states that if they need additional space beyond the lease area, they can expand for the same dollar per square foot they are paying at that time for the rest of the lease. 
    3. As part of the lease, AT&T is given 24/7 access to their lease area and a separate easement across the property for utilities. Generally, the landowner does not have to provide utilities for AT&T’s use as AT&T will procure their own meter and pay for their own power.
    4. Under the standard AT&T lease agreement, the landowner agrees to lease the property to AT&T for a period of 90 years, which consists of eighteen 5-year terms. AT&T can terminate in most cases with less than 90 days, while the landowner is obligated for the full 90 years.
    5. AT&T pays the landowner monthly rent for the cell tower, though some leases are paid annually. AT&T’s standard lease will escalate by one to two percent per year. For more information on lease rates, please see our AT&T cell tower lease rates article. 
    6. The lease provides that the landowner is not allowed to interfere with AT&T’s wireless equipment or tower. AT&T may insert a clause which states that if you prevent access to their equipment area, you can be fined $500 per day.
    7. Both parties to the lease are required to have insurance. AT&T will have $1,000,000 in general liability coverage. 
    8. AT&T’s standard lease does NOT require them to remove the tower at the expiration – it says they may remove it. If you had to remove it, it would cost you between $25,000 to $50,000.
    9. AT&T may assign and sublease as they see fit. 
    10. AT&T adds a non-compete clause which states you may not sell, lease, or use any area of the Property for wireless communication facilities if it would interfere with AT&T’s use as determined by them at their sole discretion. 
    11. The landowner is responsible for real property taxes on the entire parcel, but AT&T will pay personal property taxes for their equipment and may reimburse the landowner for a portion of the real property taxes that are “attributable” to their improvements. 
    12. AT&T adds a “Right of First Refusal” clause to all their leases which means you can’t sell their lease to a third party without first giving them the chance to purchase it. See our page on the Right of First Refusal clause for more information.
    13. The last part of the AT&T cell tower lease is the exhibits. These typically include a “Memorandum of the Lease,” which may be recorded with the county or city and which shows the location of the lease area on the property. 

    SITA’s Top Recommendations for an AT&T Cell Tower Lease Agreement

    Here are just a few of the suggestions we give our clients:

    1. 90 years is much too long! We recommend reducing the total number of years of the lease to 25 or 30 years.
    2. AT&T should always be responsible for personal and real property taxes attributable to their improvements.
    3. AT&T should be required to remove the tower at the expiration and any below ground improvements to 3’ below grade. 
    4. The Right of First Refusal should be removed or if they won’t remove it, it should be narrowed so that it only applies to companies which operate cell towers or purchase the leases underneath them. It should NOT prevent the sale of the entire property to anyone. 

    How Can Steel in the Air Assist with AT&T Cell Tower Leases?

    We are experts with AT&T cell tower leases, having reviewed thousands of them over the last 20 years. During that time, we have helped more than 500 landowners with AT&T lease agreements and proposals. Here what we can do for you:

    Help you with Proposed AT&T Wireless Leases

    You may have been contacted by an AT&T representative (aka, site acquisition agent) regarding the construction of a cell tower on your property. We can:

    1. Advise you on the appropriate signing bonus, option payments, rent, escalation, revenue share, and lease duration terms. 
    2. Help you negotiate the best lease possible.
    3. Make sure you understand the pros and cons of entering such leases. 
    4. Help you and your attorney review the lease document and we make suggestions (such as the valuable ones above) that help make sure you aren’t entering into a long-term mistake.
    5. Answer your questions before, during, and after the lease terms are negotiated.

    Review AT&T Lease Extension and Renewal Proposals

    If you already have an AT&T lease, you may have been contacted by AT&T’s agents looking to extend the lease. In most cases, you don’t need to extend the lease unless it is within 5 years of the final expiration of the lease. We are experts in valuing expiring leases, since we’ve reviewed more than any other consultant.

    Here’s what we can do for you:

    1. Figure out how much AT&T needs the site. Are there other towers nearby? Other rooftops?
    2. Determine how costly it would it be for them to move.
    3. Provide data on what other AT&T pays for rent on other similar leases when they expire.
    4. Recommend how much the site is worth to them going forward.
    5. Advise on when the best time is to negotiate for the best lease terms.

    AT&T Cell Tower Lease Buyouts

    Eventually, almost every lease holder receives an offer to purchase their lease. Most landowners are contacted by multiple companies who want to buy the lease. Some of these companies also try to make you think that if you don’t sell, that your lease will be terminated. We help landowners daily determine what their best options are. 

    We analyze your site location and:

    1. Determine whether the lease is at fair market value. 
    2. Ascertain if there is any risk that AT&T would terminate.
    3. Assess the value of the AT&T lease.
    4. Recommend whether it would be better to extend the lease or sell it.
    5. Help you realize the best price and terms if you decide to sell.

    Review AT&T Lease Renegotiation Requests

    If you have received an offer to extend, you may have also received a request to lower the rent. You are probably somewhat familiar with lease renegotiation tactics (also referred to as lease optimization). AT&T retains third party optimization agents who will try to get you to agree to better lease terms (for them). They use certain “tricks of the trade,” like high-pressure sales tactics and implied threats of termination to convince (coerce) you into worse lease terms and conditions.

    We will review the situation and:

    1. Figure out how much AT&T needs the site. Are there other towers nearby? Other rooftops?
    2. Determine how costly it would it be for them to move.
    3. Figure out the probability that AT&T would move their cell site or tower if you choose not to renegotiate.
    4. Review with you the pros/cons of renegotiating the AT&T Wireless lease.

    Help your Attorney with the Lease

    Some of our clients have great attorneys who know real estate, but don’t know as much about telecom leases. We can help you (and them) understand the nuances of a wireless lease.

    If you need help with anything regarding an AT&T cell tower lease, here is our commitment to you:

    1. We won’t pitch you on buying your lease.
    2. We won’t add you to our newsletter, and you won’t be contacted more than once for a follow up.
    3. The information you share with us during the call is confidential and will remain confidential. We NEVER sell your data to lease buyout companies.
    4. We will let you know if the time is too early for our assistance, or if we feel we can’t help in your situation.
    5. The initial call is free. You don’t owe anything until you sign a contract for services with us – we also have flexible payment options to suit your needs.
    Scroll to Top