Sunday, February 1, 2009

Landowner's Property and Utility Company Easements

A client recently approached us for advice regarding a consent letter he received from one of the major cell phone companies seeking to place antennas on a transmission tower owned by the utility on his property. The letter stated that the cell phone company had recently entered into a lease agreement with the utility company for the use of the utility-owned tower within the easement granted to it by the landowner over 60 years ago. While the letter was requesting the landowner's consent to file its zoning application for the cell phone company’s use, it did not have any terms and conditions nor did it offer any compensation for the consent.

The general language of the easement granted the utility company certain rights of use, however, it did not permit the use of the easement for telecommunications purposes nor allow the use by third parties. After further discussions and negotiations, the cell phone company ultimately agreed to enter into an easement agreement with our client which included among other things, a monthly rental payment at market rates.

Based on our experience in assisting other clients, we believe that this type of scenario is happening frequently throughout the country. To their detriment, many unknowing landowners assume incorrectly that the cell phone company has the right to use their property and that they are not entitled to any compensation. We suspect, however, that in many instances, the cell phone company does not have such rights and will only negotiate with a landowner when it is brought to their attention. In certain cases, we have found that the cell phone company never even contacted the owner at all and just installed their equipment.

If you have been contacted by cell phone company that has entered into a similar arrangement with a local utility, we can assist you in determining what rights, if any, you have to legally protect your property and seek compensation.


Blogger Jonathan L. Kramer, Esq. said...

Useful and valuable counsel, Ken! You're right; when you see something happening in the wireless industry in one area, it's likely happening in other areas.

Jonathan L. Kramer, Esq.
Kramer Telecom Law Firm, PC
Los Angeles
Telecom Law Firm
Wireless Blog and Photo Gallery

February 1, 2009 at 4:12 PM  

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