What is the difference between an easement and an assignment?

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The Easement – Most lease buyout companies prefer to obtain an easement on the Property to secure their interests in the lease and their right to sublease space within the easement in the future. The easement can either be a perpetual easement or a fixed easement.

Perpetual – Most lease buyout companies will seek a “perpetual” easement. Depending on the state the cell site is located, perpetual has different meanings. For example, in California, “perpetual” will mean 99 years, whereas in some other states, the easement will be in place as long as the rule against perpetuities is not violated. Usually, property owners receive the largest purchase price for the granting of a perpetual easement, however, whether to grant such a term is a question for careful consideration. Depending on your future plans with the property, in some instances, a perpetual easement may be a good idea. One such example is where a cell site exists on raw land that will not be developed and where the underlying property has a low value. However, if the cell site is on a building rooftop and the property upon which the building sits will be redeveloped in future, then granting a perpetual easement may not be the right fit.
Fixed Term – The majority of property owners we represent grant a fixed year easement interest to lease buyout companies. Our clients typically find that they can agree to a specific number of years to maximize the value of the cell site lease, while still allowing for some flexibility in the foreseeable future. While the perpetual easement takes the cell site out of the future of most heirs alive today, a fixed year easement will allow the cell site easement area to revert to either the original Grantors or their heirs. Thus, depending on estate planning or future property development, the fixed term offers the ideal term with a near term high return on investment

The Assignment of Lease – A few of the lease buyout companies are willing to forego the easement and assume what amounts to a partial assignment of lease (primarily the right to receive rental revenue). The assignment of lease is also for a term certain. With the assignment, the property owner (landlord) agrees to assign certain landlord rights under the lease with the carrier to the lease buyout company. This product can be useful in certain circumstances where an easement area is not easily identified or a property owner does not want to place an easement on the title record of the property.