As the telecommunications industry updates their infrastructure, the amount of knowledge that people have about telecommunications is also expanding.

This story starts in 1958 when the Virginia Electric and Power Co. legally obtained an easement from the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority to access their property to install the necessary equipment for providing electric power. The power company built a 100-foot pole on the site. Roughly 60 years later, that property is now owned by a Virginia couple and is considered private property.

In 2002, a local cell service company came approached the electrical company and signed a lease agreement with them without ever consulting the couple. This cellphone provider was then acquired by T-mobile who sends crews onto the property to update the technology and maintain it.

The couple at the time didn’t realize that this was trespassing. Almost 10 years later after receiving marketing materials and phone calls with companies offering to buy out the contract for their cellular pole, they realized that they were never approached for a contract with the cell phone company. However, they are facing some problems in filing a lawsuit due to the amount of time they allowed the cell service provider to access their property.

Stories like this happen very often. Landowners don’t know their rights, and sometimes believe that the cell tower companies have the right to access their property. Funny thing about that is…they don’t. Any service provider on your property MUST pay a right of way easement to access your land, and if they are on your property without one, they are trespassing.

Cellphone tower companies can’t erect cell phone towers on your land, or cellular antennas on your roof, or run fiber through your property unless you give them the legal right to in exchange for financial compensation. This is called a telecommunications lease. If you have a piece of property that you believe a telecommunications service provider would be interested in, you can list it on our website for free. Our industry experts have insider knowledge and armed with that, we are better able to represent you and your interests when negotiating a lease on your behalf. For instance, if we negotiate a cellphone tower, we look to get you compensation for what is called co-location. That means if a cellphone tower rents space to multiple cell service providers, you should get a chunk of that revenue.

It’s important as a landowner to look at all the papers and information given to you when you purchase a piece of property. If there are certain service providers or utility companies on your land, it would behoove you to find a lawyer to evaluate the content of those easements to make sure you don’t run into a situation like that of the couple from Virginia.




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