Recent Changes in the Law That May Affect Leases with Wireless Carriers

By | Advisories

In the article, “Reader Alert: New FCC Rules Affect New and Existing Cell Site Leases” published by the California Real Property Journal of the State Bar of California, co-authors Christina R. Sansone and Natalia Shparber inform public and private cell site landlords about an important recent development in telecommunications law. The article discusses the recently-published Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Report and Order (FCC’s Order) which interprets a new federal statute, Section 6409(a) of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (Section 6409(a)). The new statute radically changes the process by which certain cell tower permits may be granted or denied by local agencies. Key takeaways from the FCC’s Order for cell site landlords include:

Definitions of key technical terms;
Guidelines for understanding the FCC’s Order;
How certain new limitations to a local government’s zoning and land use authority may affect cell site installations or modifications on a landlord’s property.
Anticipated challenges to Section 6409(a) and the FCC’s Order.
In this era of skyrocketing mobile usage, a landlord should be vigilant about protecting the property and understand the practices used by cell site tenants that may compromise a landlord’s rights. The article contains a number of recommended practices such as periodically auditing the leased premises to verify compliance with the terms of the lease, and attaching copies of plans and permits to document each change in the cell site. A landlord should also look for opportunities to amend the lease in the event a tenant wishes to expand the size and scope of the cell site.

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Natalia Shparber On School Districts Hosting Cell Sites

By | Advisories

In the article, “Managing Wireless Tenants on School Properties” published by School Planning & Management, co-authors Natalia Shparber and Christopher Grimes discuss the benefits of wireless leases for school districts, as well as the implications that may follow.

When school districts enter into cell site agreements with wireless carriers, the rental revenue generated from these leases can be used to support various school programs, such as athletics. “During a challenging financial climate, schools had limited experience with land leases or other commercial activities on school properties,” according to the authors.

While there are definite benefits for school districts to become a wireless site landlord, there are also management issues that may be undiscovered or unaddressed. These may include construction compliance with federal, state and local laws, over occupancy of the school’s land, proper district reimbursement for electrical power usage, the replacement of stadium light bulbs when those bulbs are above an antenna array, compensation for legal and school district staff management time, and other contract elements. Also, the parties should take time upfront to discuss how to meet the carrier’s need for around-the-clock access with the school’s obligations to provide a safe and secure learning environment.

With proper legal strategies, coupled with lease enforcement and management, Ms. Shparber and Mr. Grimes say that districts should expect their wireless leases to produce greater generation of needed revenues to maintain and improve school facilities.

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TLF Advisories Disclaimer

By | Advisories

This may be considered ATTORNEY ADVERTISING in some states. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. TLF Advisories are not intended as legal advice. Additional facts or future developments may affect subjects contained herein. Consult your attorney before acting or relying upon any information in any TLF Advisory(ies). It does not constitute legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is formed by reading it.