Savvy Home Owner’s Associations (HOAs) should always be looking to augment their reserve funds without raising fees in the community. There are several ways to do this if you think creatively. Some common strategies include the addition of coin-operated washer and dryers or renting out common area rooms or space for community functions. One thing you might not have considered is a cell phone antenna.
Are we thinking out of the box here? Absolutely. But, in uncertain economic times this can be a viable alternative to raising fees, special assessments or worse an underfunded reserve.
Read More: What is a Reserve Study?
As wireless companies race to expand their coverage to keep up with competitors and growing data usage, HOAs stand to capitalize. Physical requirements such as elevation and space are surprisingly minimal and the antennas are typically small and painted to match the building, making them virtually unnoticeable. By leasing common area space such as a rooftop, for cell phone antennas, you can enjoy guaranteed monthly revenue at an annual rate typically between $15,000 and $30,000, depending on the feasibility of your location and number of antennas.
Before you go and spend that extra cash, there are some things to consider. This is historically a tough initiative to pass through the community and has been known to create quite the controversy. The two most popular objections are compromising the aesthetics of the building or community and health concerns.
For decades scientist and concerned citizens have debated the implications of being exposed to radio frequency radiation. Some argue that the radiation alters your brain activity and even causes cancer. However, to the best of our knowledge, no study to date has been conclusive in proving this claim. By human nature, people will generally treat an unknown as risk and therefor it will be tough to garner approval for this project.
This is an initiative best presented at the annual meeting of homeowners. The Trustees can get a majority opinion and address concerns as they arise; and they will. If possible have a cell phone company representative on hand so that you can defer to them when scientific and mechanical questions are asked. The association should also have an attorney on hand to weigh in on the negotiations and the ultimate lease agreement between your association and the cell phone provider.
While it is worthwhile for HOAs to consider leasing space to cell phone providers, it’s clearly not an open and shut case. It will inevitably end in controversy but if your association decides that it’s an avenue worth pursuing, you will enjoy additional revenue for operating or reserve funds. And if that’s not enough, everyone will enjoy better cell reception!
At Barrera and Company, we complete thousands of Reserve Studies each year which have helped our clients comply with the law and prepare for upcoming expenditures.
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