Crossing Wires

By Fredericks, James | Journal of Property Management, May/June 2007 | Go to article overview

Crossing Wires


Fredericks, James, Journal of Property Management


New developments in technology present legal headaches for real estate managers

Technology, like the law, is dynamic. It is constantly changing. And while some developments in technology have no doubt increased revenue for real estate managers, they have also increased liability issues and prompted legal entanglements.

Abandoned telecommunications wires were a hot legal topic in the real estate community for a while because of the dangers they can present to a building. As a result, careful property managers now either require the removal of wiring by tenants in their leases, or incorporate the cost of removing such wiring into the cost of the build-out for the next tenant.

Similarly, lease agreements among real estate managers and cell phone companies have unleashed a slew of legal ramifications all parties must consider. For example, owners leasing space to cell tower companies should address issues like roof maintenance; signal interference with the manager's or other licensees' antennas; and removal of an antenna upon termination of a lease.

A more recently developed technology-based revenue stream installing wireless Internet systems or Wi-Fi within buildings or larger developments like shopping centers, college campuses and even entire cities - has certainly raised liability issues of which real estate managers should be aware.

Presently the medium is fraught with problems, like privacy and piracy. Individuals can tap into others' systems and steal information. For a tenant in an office property, that could mean a competitor taking sensitive information and using it to damage the tenant's business. Is the property manager then liable for not having a secure network?

Additionally, offering Wi-Fi might not be as lucrative as it once was because of a recent Federal Communications Commission deci- sion. …

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