My lease doesn’t expire for years, so do I have to agree to an extension at this point time?

Absolutely not. If you are party to a lease with Crown Castle or American Tower Corporation, you should be aware of some tactics. They might attempt to convince you that failure to renew your lease now will have results, such as:

  1. The cell site your lease is tied to will be forwarded to their Alternative Site Relocation Department (and removed from your property).
  2. Other wireless carriers will not elect to collocate on the cell site (because the lease term is not long enough to make it worth their while), therefore the tower and your lease will depreciate in value.

In both cases, they are being melodramatic. Tower companies don’t actually start looking for alternative sites until a year or two prior to the expiration date. The costs associated with building a replacement tower and relocating the wireless carriers from your tower to a new tower are substantial, and they won’t do it until they absolutely have to. With regards to the collocation of other carriers, they will and do lease space on towers tied to leases with less than 20 years until expiration. We see it all the time. In one case, with two months left on the lease, one of the tower companies submitted two applications to the local zoning department, hoping to add two carriers to its tower. At the same time, this tower company was telling my client that it was planning on moving the tower. What made this situation all the more laughable was that the client was the municipality to whom the tower company had submitted the zoning applications. I guess they figured my client’s zoning department wouldn’t talk to their real estate office.

So when should you renew your lease? The short answer is: do it when it’s worth your while. Are they giving you an increase in rent? Are they giving you a hefty signing bonus? Are they giving you a revenue share on current or future tenants? We have assisted a few hundred clients with American Tower lease extensions and another few hundred with Crown Castle lease extensions. We have consulted hundreds of property owners involved with lease negotiations with wireless carriers, as well. Call us or email us, let us know what they are proposing and in most cases, we will tell you not to accept it. If we think your situation can be improved by working with us, we will let you know how we pride our services.

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