What is “future consent” you might ask?
It is when a tower company asks for consent before they actually need it. In this case, Crown Castle is sending letters like the one below to landowners who have leases that require consent before something is allowed to happen.
SItuations that might require consent include modifications to equipment on the tower or subleasing space on the tower to a wireless company. Most cell tower leases do not include consent language- it has to be requested by the landowner. So giving future consent defeats the entire purpose of having that language in the lease.
Why would a landowner want this language?
There are a few typical reasons that a landowner would prefer to grant consent before the lessee does something.
- Assignment: The landowner may want to prevent assignments to companies that aren’t financially solid enough to meet the tower company’s obligations.
- Subleasing: The landowner may want to know what other companies are coming onto the property before the tower owner subleases to them. Or they may want to be compensated for the additional burden on the property from more users accessing the property.
- Modifications: The landowner may want to restrict what can be done on the tower or how it can be done. This may be to limit the aesthetic impact on the property.
What Crown Castle has attempted to do with the above letter is basically remove the consent provision entirely. We strongly recommend against signing these letters.
Why Not Give Future Consent?
Let’s look at each situation above and share why the landowner should keep the right to consent. As it pertains to an assignment, we have directly observed a wireless carrier assign all the leases they no longer wanted to an internal wholly-owned shell company so they could sell that entire company to a tower company that then would terminate the leases it no longer wanted. As to subleasing, the landowner may be entitled to compensation for the sublease so agreeing to consent to future subleasing is just giving up revenue. Even if the lease allows subleasing without compensation, consent still allows the landowner the opportunity to review the plans and equipment being installed and confirm who will be on their property regularly. As to modifications, tower companies like to suggest that almost all modifications they do are within their rights in the lease REGARDLESS of whether they actually are. By granting future consent, the landowner will never have an opportunity to review the proposed modifications to confirm that the tower company is allowed to do the modifications under the lease. If the modifications aren’t allowed in the lease, there is the opportunity for more rent.
If you have language in your lease that requires consent, KEEP IT!
If you have questions about your lease or a request from Crown Castle to remove consent, ask us about it on our Question and Answer page.
If a tower company has offered you a signing bonus to extend your lease, see our page on cell tower lease extensions and why the tower company is asking so far in advance of lease expiration.
If Crown Castle or another tower company is asking for consent to sublease, contact us. We can review your lease and see whether they have the right to sublease and whether you are due compensation.
Please note that Steel in the Air is not affiliated with Crown Castle. We provide services to landowners who have a lease with Crown Castle or received Crown Castle Lease Buyout offer. If you need to contact Crown Castle, their website is www.crowncastle.com.