As an attorney who owns properties covered by a cell tower lease, and who represents landowners in leases and servitude agreements with cell tower companies and cell tower consolidators, I have noticed increased interest in new leases, lease extensions and buyouts. While the financial terms of agreements covering cell towers are important, the effect on the value of the underlying property is often the most important consideration.

Landowners negotiating leases or servitude sales (buyouts) with tower companies or consolidators should consider the effect of these agreements on the landowner’s ability to use the land. The leases and buyouts will affect not only the actual land covered by the tower and its footprint, but may include nearby land within specific distances of the tower.

The lease and buyout forms we have seen favor the tower companies and the consolidators. Leases drafted by consolidators, who sell packages of cell tower leases and servitudes to tower companies, may be more one-sided than tower company leases to facilitate the consolidator’s acquisition loans needed to pay for the cell towers and related leases or servitudes. Many current cell tower and consolidator form leases and buyout agreements impose extremely onerous termination conditions on Landlords to protect consolidator lenders.

Louisiana is a civil law jurisdiction, and terminology for leases and servitudes can be confusing and may cause title problems for landowners. Obtaining a lawyer familiar with cell tower leases, servitudes and Louisiana civil law should be a priority for any landowner in Louisiana considering leasing, extending a lease or selling a servitude to a cell tower company or a consolidator.