Most cellular leases don’t restrict what goes within the lease area. Since we serve the Lessor (the property owner), the purpose of Steel in the Air’s lease audits is to determine whether or not our clients’ tenants (wireless carriers and/or tower companies) are acting within the confines of the original agreement. We examine the infrastructure and equipment, and can identify and explain what technology is being used, whether or not any additional tenants have collocated or subleased space on the cell site, and whether or not the footprint being used is within the boundaries of what was initially agreed upon. We can also explain how specific technological advances and industry dynamics (e.g. mergers and acquisitions) might affect individual cell towers and cell sites.
Our lease audits also include an analysis of revenue received from the tenants, including rental payments as well as other reimbursable expenses, like taxes and electricity. Additionally, it can include an evaluation of future rental payments based on any proposed modifications to existing cellular leases.
Building owners who lease structural space (either on rooftops or within the building itself) to wireless carriers and/ or tower companies request that we perform lease audits when they suspect that there might be more equipment (or tenants) utilizing the cell site than were originally consented to in the original lease agreement. Building owners rightfully believe that in this case, they should be receiving higher rental payments.
While it’s rare for us to discover that a carrier or tower company is intentionally trying to underpay, we have found mistakes. Candidly, some of these mistakes work in our clients’ best interests. For instance, in addition to underpaying, we’ve found that some carriers have allowed third parties to share their ground space or rooftop space without appropriately compensating the landowner. We’ve also handled cases where carriers have installed additional antennas beyond what is allowed in the lease agreement, meaning that the landowner is likely entitled to increased rental payments, and more importantly, the value of the lease as a whole has increased. Without a proper cell site audit, you might not ever know for certain.
If you are looking for information on negotiating new rooftop cell site leases, please see our page on Rooftop Cell Site Negotiations.