With Sprint Nextel’s decision to decommission its iDEN sites, thousands of lease termination agreements have been sent out to landlords. That sounds pretty normal, but the terms of the lease terminations appear to be less than optimal, according to some in the tower industry.
In one of the termination agreements, redacted, obtained by AGL Bulletin, the site would be surrendered to the tower owner in its “current ‘AS IS’ condition.”
Save for the removal of Nextel’s radios and some backup batteries, the landlord would be left with all of what is termed the “communications facility,” including the antennas, transmission lines, air conditioning equipment room, microwave equipment, cable wiring, conduit runs and any other electronic equipment.
Jonathan Kramer, Kramer Law Firm, notes on his blog that typical wireless leases require the carrier to remove the communications facility and return the site to the landlord in the same basic condition that existed prior to the lease. He also questions a clause in the lease termination that releases Sprint Nextel, primarily, from any legal obligations concerning the site in the future.
“[Sprint] Nextel’s preference now seems to be to abandon the equipment in place and transfer title of the abandoned equipment, with no warranties whatsoever, to the site landlord,” Kramer writes. “With the abandonment goes all of the legal liabilities, as well, which may include liabilities imposed by the local governments on Nextel, but transferred by this agreement to the landlord.”
Mike Ritter, Tower Seekers, writes on his blog that after the lease terminations went out from Sprint Nextel, Black Dot began contacting the tower owners to negotiate the end of lease agreements
“A Black Dot representative calls the landlord offering to partially decommission the site leaving a ‘plug-and-play’ location for a future cell site tenant,” Ritter writes. “In addition, promises are made that allowing Sprint to take only their radios and batteries will allow the landlord to ‘replace the income lost from Nextel.’”
The letter goes on to state that Black Dot feels “strongly that we can find a replacement carrier quickly and are will to give you 75 percent any new revenue we can negotiate.”
Ritter is advising tower owners to beware of promises concerning decommissioning of Sprint Nextel sites and to resist any pressure that is applied upon them to sign a lease termination agreement without seeking expert representation.