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Can my building collect a fee if Verizon Fios uses our courtyard?

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Question:

I'm on the board of a co-op, and Verizon FiOS is using some space in our back courtyard for service for the whole neighborhood. How do we negotiate with them to receive a monthly rental fee for allowing them to use our property?

Answer:

While it might seem logical for your building to charge a fee if there's a FiOS box taking up residence in your courtyard, don't count on it, say our experts.

"We own all of our telecommunications infrastructure in New York City, and the rights of way within that," Verizon rep Ray McConville tells us. "There's also infrastructure that exists inside buildings that they own, and we can't do anything on those properties without getting permission."

McConville adds, "It is not a standard practice of ours to compensate property owners for letting us wire their property."

And since your building presumably already gave Verizon the go-ahead to make your courtyard the hub for the neighborhood's Fios service, seeking compensation now will likely be an especially tough sell.

"If the property is contracted as a hub point for the neighborhood, an agreement should already be in place detailing particulars of access, reimbursement for any power consumption and distribution rights," says Thomas Usztoke, vice president of Douglas Elliman Property Management.

Typically in this kind of situation, a company like Verizon will have state-granted access rights to provide services to your building and neighborhood as necessary, Usztoke notes, though you could have your attorneys take a look at the existing agreement for details and ask Verizon to provide proof of their 'right of access' to cross properly lines without compensating the building.

However, it's worth keeping in mind that you run the risk of getting a small or nonexistent payout, at the expense of your building's reputation in the neighborhood. "A right of way [for Verizon] may have no appreciable impact to your property," says Usztoke, "But being the board that denies your neighbor building access to FiOS may not be the talk of the neigbhorhood you want to portray."


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