How to Lease Cell Phone Towers

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An increase in cellular service demand often means an increase in the need for communication towers.
An increase in cellular service demand often means an increase in the need for communication towers. (Image: Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

As the demand for cellular service increases, so does the demand for cellular towers. Often, the best location for a new cellular telephone tower is on a privately owned piece of property. A common solution is for a cellular company to lease land from a property owner and build a cellular tower on that land. This is commonly referred to as “leasing a cell tower,” although technically the lease applies to the land and not the tower itself. If you would like to lease a tower, be prepared for a challenge. Although leasing a tower can be lucrative, "Steel in the Air" reports that landowners have a less than 5 percent chance of successfully leasing cell phone tower space.

Assess your property realistically to determine if it would be a desirable place for a tower. Your property is not a good candidate if you are within one mile of an existing tower or too far away from major roadways.

Check your local zoning laws to ensure that a cell tower will not cause a zoning violation. Cell phone companies can not lease tower space from you if doing so would violate local laws. According to Steel in the Air, you are more likely to get a tower if you are in an industrial area than a residential one.

Be prepared for the possibility of upset neighbors. Following the letter of the law can help you avoid problems with local zoning and enforcement officials but won’t protect you from neighbors who disapprove of the cellular tower.

Contact several cellular companies to find out if they are looking to lease property in your area. If no one is interested, make sure you check in with them about every 6 months, as tower space needs change often.

Make your property noticeable. Place signs in high-visibility areas on your property announcing your willingness to lease, and listing your daytime telephone number.

Be prepared to negotiate and consult a lawyer if a cell company is interested in talking to you. The company’s goal is to get what it needs for as little as possible, so make sure you have someone looking out for your interests when negotiating with the company. The first offer a cell phone company makes is, according to Steel on the Air, “is almost never their final offer.”

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