Cellular antennas on rooftop

    Rooftop antenna tower leasing is similar to cell tower leasing, however there is usually much less space for the transmission equipment. More importantly, while wireless carriers or cell tower companies usually own the cell towers and are in charge of any subleasing or collocation, rooftop owners can lease space to multiple carriers and receive multiple income streams.

    Building owners may be attracted to the idea of leasing space on rooftops for antennas or antenna towers, but it’s important to remember that these types of rooftop cell site lease agreements present an entirely separate and unique set of issues than tower ground leases. Top among these are structural and access considerations.


    Left to their own devices, carriers will utilize the leased space in whatever fashion they determine best meets their bottom line, sometimes eliminating the opportunity for the building owner to lease to other carriers. While rarely done intentionally, installing equipment as inexpensively as possible is a standard cost-cutting measure and may restrict the ability to grant space to other wireless antenna equipment companies.

    Another issue inherent in rooftop leasing is the physical attachment to the roof or parapet of the building. Once again, the carrier will look for the easiest and least expensive way to install the equipment. Sometimes, this installation may void roofing warranties; other times, it may cause leaking. Forcing a carrier to repair this kind of damage can be quite difficult and, in some cases impossible, since the carrier may claim the roof was installed improperly when the building was originally constructed or renovated.

    All rooftop tenants should be obligated to provide a structural analysis that confirms the building frame will be capable of supporting the additional loading of the equipment being placed on the roof, which can often exceed 3,000 pounds.

    We caution our clients to carefully evaluate how the installation of coaxial cables, remote radio units, towers, and antennas on rooftops will impact them before entering a rooftop antenna lease. If you have questions, our team at Steel in the Air is here to assist you in exploring these options to determine which is the best and safest for you. We will bring all the practical experience we’ve gained from helping over 4,000+ landowners and rooftop owners to evaluate your unique situation. We can review the proposed drawings and confirm what is best for the building owner.


    Building owners should also be concerned with included access and noise. Rooftop antenna leasing usually requires that the carrier be allowed 24/7 access — though this is negotiable. Tenants in a residential building or condominium may not appreciate having a cell site technician coming through the building at any hour or the day or night. Building owners may request the rooftop lease language contain certain limitations on the type of access so tenants are minimally impacted.


    If the wireless company wishes to install a generator on the roof, the building owner should be concerned about the potential noise – especially on residential buildings like condos. Furthermore, it is essential that the building owner negotiates reasonable restrictions on when construction activities will occur. These conditions should not include construction activities that are related to emergencies.


    While rooftop cell site lease negotiations are similar to those for tower leases, there are often other buildings the carrier could use and may be considering. That’s why it’s important that building owners understand their bargaining position in the negotiations.

    Just as with cell tower sites, two rooftop properties located less than a half-mile apart can still have vastly different monetary values to a single carrier. Similarly, the same rooftop can have totally different values to several different carriers. Let our seasoned experts assess how your lease compares to other leases in the area based on our cell site lease rent database.

    Steel in the Air has assisted over 1,000 building owners over the last 12 years by properly preparing them to successfully negotiate the slippery slope of rooftop leasing and advising them on all pertinent installation issues. Our clients have better organized rooftops with proper cable routing and sufficient space remaining for additional rooftop leases. Furthermore, our clients know specifically what equipment and antennas have been installed on their roofs because we track it carefully for them.

    If you are in a current rooftop leasing arrangement and want to know for sure whether you are receiving the rate you should, visit our rooftop cell site audit services page. Then contact us or call us at 1-877-428-6937 to help you get the most out of your rooftop leasing negotiations.

    Please note: We are not able to market your rooftop cell site to any carriers. For more information on rooftop marketing, please see our Featured Article: Cell Tower Marketing: What to Watch Out For


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