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Cell Site Lease Questions and Answers – Termination of Rooftop Lease – Equipment Abandonment and Brooklyn NYC Verizon Wireless 5G Rent Rates

Cell Site Lease Questions & Answers - Termination Rooftop Equipment & Brooklyn NYC Rent Rate
Kevin Donohue:
All right. Welcome to the Tower Genius Podcast with Steve Kazella and Kevin Donohue. Tonight, we’re going to cover a couple of questions that were actually sent to us from some of our viewers and some of the folks on our webpage. So, Steve, I think we’ll start with you. I’ll ask you the first question.
Steve Kazella:
Okay.
Kevin Donohue:
And that is from Wanda in Englewood, New Jersey. She’s an existing Cell Tower landlord and she states she received a letter from Sprint T-Mobile. Will be canceling their lease April 18th. This was a 25 plus one year lease. New lease from last year states that they have to take equipment off the roof. Will the attempt to pay a bonus not to take it off the roof, and if so, why would this not be a good idea to do, to take?
Steve Kazella:
Hey, Wanda. Thanks for the question and yeah, so we’ve seen quite a bit of this recently with the consolidation, with Sprint T-Mobile merging and a lot of these Sprint sites are going away and I’m sure they’d love to keep all that equipment up there. It’s a lot less expensive for them to leave it there and pay a few thousand bucks and let you deal with the headaches as they come. A lot of these companies will, the carriers will hire vendors that are reading off the script, that are highly incentivized to get you to accept a check and leave the equipment there and they’ll tell you that the other carriers can use the equipment or they’ll come up with a bunch of different excuses, but at the end of the day, it’s going to cost you more to get that decommissioned than what they’ll give you.

As far as, the equipment platforms potentially can be used if you wanted to put a chiller AC unit, whatever up there, or perhaps another carrier could use the steel platform if one exists, but they don’t need your antenna mounts. They don’t need the equipment cabinets. They don’t need the antennas. They’re going to use all their equipment of their own. There’s really no good reason to leave equipment up there. Don’t take the money, as tempting as it may be. Have them remove and restore your rooftop to its original condition, less reasonable wear and tear. That’s pretty standard language in these lease agreements, but don’t take the money. That’s my answer, Wanda. Kevin, you want to add anything to that? Kevin Donohue:
Yeah, also the many cases, the planning and zoning boards that gave their approval have a 12 month limit on a site once it’s abandoned for all antennas to come down and the site to be restored. It’s even worse when you’re dealing with cell towers because they certainly don’t want them just sitting there and rotting away. There’s no guarantee you’re going to get a second carrier to come to that site and replace the Sprint T-Mobile location, so you really have to gauge whether there’s a high probability, if it’s worth it or not because if another carrier really wants to come in and utilize your site that badly, they’re going to be willing to put additional steel up there to replace that platform.

The other concern is if nobody comes on the site, is that location on your roof now a problem because it makes it tougher for your roofers to come in and do work on it, to either maintain it or to replace a roof. So, unless you really think there’s a high probability, or if you have a use for it, for storage, putting up a shed or something like that to store equipment in, or like you said, Steve, an HVAC unit. I would always recommend that people take it down and not worry about getting stuck with a much bigger bill later on. Steve Kazella:
Okay. Thank you, Wanda, in Englewood. All right, Kevin, we got something else?
Kevin Donohue:
Yeah, we got another question here for you, Steve. Okay, Steve, the second question we have tonight is from Ernie in Brooklyn. The question is, what can I charge Verizon for a rooftop antenna in Brooklyn, New York? And that’s such a wide range because each site’s individual have fits to a network what it’s worth, what the competition’s out there, all different types of factors. But he goes into a lot more detail here where I think you’re going to like the spin on this one, that the carrier’s trying to put on it. I bought a six story building in Bay Ridge Parkway in Brooklyn, New York, with a lease at $1,000 per month, since 2018, expiring on September, 2023. So it looks like there’s small cell, all right, for a lease of that duration right there, testing the site.

There are nine existing antenna and Verizon contacted me and wanted to replace seven of the nine antennas and remove an existing cabinet on steel frame at the bulkhead install 140 square foot platform and offer to increase the rent by $150. There were no increases in the rent from 2018, so somebody took advantage of the previous owner here. Any idea of what the charge, maybe a new lease or maybe make a counter off or a $300s firm and wait for renewal is harder for Verizon to leave the site when it’s just upgraded. From Ernie. Steve Kazella:
Okay. Ernie in Brooklyn. All right. Well, and Ernie, it sounds like he bought the building that the lease was already there. I think that’s what it sounds like.
Kevin Donohue:
Yeah.
Steve Kazella:
Yeah. Sometimes-
Kevin Donohue:
It’s two year lease so you know what it really is.
Steve Kazella:
We actually run across it sometimes where someone’s in the process of selling a building, the carrier contacts them and they do the deal on the cheap. Again, it sounds like this could be a small cell, probably is a small cell that they’re trying still make you believe it’s a small cell, but you know, nine antennas, that’s not a small cell. That’s-
Kevin Donohue:
Nine antennas being swapped out an additional 140 square feet so you know they’re putting in a couple of cabinets, probably three cabinets.
Steve Kazella:
Yeah. I mean, come on. They’re getting away with highway robbery here at a thousand bucks a month for the last, whatever, five years.
Kevin Donohue:
On Bay Ridge Parkway. Yeah.
Steve Kazella:
Yeah, it’s not like it’s in a rural part of upstate New York so this site makes money for Verizon day and night. It’s running hot 24/7, covering whatever capacity issues they have and coverage gaps so it’s a valuable site and it’s a macro site disguised as a small cell.
Kevin Donohue:
Small cell now. Yeah. That’s what they’re trying to do make turn, poof, turn a small cell into a macro cell and charge you what they were and even that was a large fee, a thousand dollars for Verizon in the market with a large…
Steve Kazella:
That’s a lot for a small cell, but not, again, they have what, seven small cells there or whatever, nine so the answer is charge them a heck of a lot more.
Kevin Donohue:
Yeah. Give us a call. We can help you with this one. This is-
Steve Kazella:
Take [inaudible 00:07:30] Brooklyn because they’ll run us out of town, but you definitely don’t want to leave money on the table.
Kevin Donohue:
Yeah.
Steve Kazella:
And Verizon’s not your friend, first of all. They’re not going to tell you what it’s worth and-
Kevin Donohue:
Yeah, the consultants coming in doing this work are also not your friend. They’re hired guns who get paid on what they can bring in cheaper and they’re incentivized. This is a site where we have to figure out what the site’s worth. The only way to really do that Ernie, is for us to look at the location, look at the competition, look at exactly what it’s covering. Think of it like a piece of a puzzle and how does this piece fit into that puzzle? How difficult would be to duplicate it going somewhere else? What would be the cost of doing that? There’s a whole bunch of factors that come into play that we would need to figure out, but give us a call. I think you’ll find that our pricing is exceptionally competitive and in some cases we’re able to make it where the landlord pays little or nothing in the end because of the increases that you get in bonuses and such.

So give us a call. We would love to have a shot at providing services to you on this one and coach you. Basically, we have a coaching service where we would go through everything, figure it out. Also, it’s a way to go back to the old lease and fix any past problems, like not getting an increase every year. So we’ll go back, we’ll tell you what to change, red line the lease and then coach you on how to get your points across and to make it a win-win for both parties where they get a site that works for them long term and you’re getting a fair market value for your site. Steve Kazella:
And Ernie I’ll even take payment in pizza if you want to ship it down from there. It’s worth more than the US dollar right now. So I’ll save a few [inaudible 00:09:29]
Kevin Donohue:
Yeah, Steve being down in Florida he’s missing great pizza.
Steve Kazella:
Thank you. Great question Ernie. Thank you very much.
Kevin Donohue:
Yeah. Thanks so much, Ernie.
Steve Kazella

I was recruited out of Enterprise Rent a Car in 2000 by Kevin Donohue, who is my business partner today, to be a real estate site acquisition manager in the NYC Metropolitan Area for his company that was contracting for Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile and Sprint. In 2008 I founded a consulting firm know today as Tower Genius, LLC where Kevin and I have helped many thousands of people and existing cell tower landlords get the help and information they need to succeed at the cell tower negotiating table.

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