Read Your Lease Agreement

One benefit you are entitled to as a Pilot Protection Services member is review of a hangar lease that you are contemplating entering. However, it is often that a member has already signed the lease and entered the hangar space before calling. 

Further, it is typical that the only reason a member is calling is because a dispute has arisen between the airport sponsor and the member/tenant.


At this point it is typically too late to do anything about the lease. It is too late to negotiate because your negotiating power is gone. One of the common issues that arises in a hangar lease agreement is that a member thinks they are entering into a multiyear lease agreement when they are only entering into a month-to-month tenancy. This is typically because in one paragraph of the lease agreement the term will be specified for a set number of years while another paragraph gives the airport sponsor an option to terminate the agreement for any reason with a 30-day notice. It would be one thing if the airport sponsor could only terminate for cause with a 30-day notice, but if they can terminate the lease for any reason with 30-day notice then that is simply a month to month, not a term of years.


Other issues arising out of lease agreements involve violations of grant assurances. Grant assurances are assurances that airport sponsors have agreed to receive federal grant money to maintain and support the airport. Some of these grant assurances prevent unjust discrimination or require that you use your hangar for aeronautical uses. Sometimes airport sponsors get into a situation where they are even more restrictive than the Federal Aviation Administration is regarding what is allowed as an aeronautical use which in turn causes unjust discrimination. One example of this is telling tenants that they cannot build their aircraft or that they have to have a registered aircraft in their hangar. This tends to discriminate against experimental aeronautical users.


These issues and more can be identified when an attorney reviews your lease prior to signing it. It may be possible to negotiate these terms out of the agreement or in the alternative walk away and find another hangar space for your aircraft. Before you sign your hangar lease agreement, call AOPA’s Pilot Protection Services at 1-800-USA-AOPA to review it.

Ryan King
Ryan King is a former in-house attorney with AOPA’s Legal Services Plan. Ryan is a Private Pilot and predominately flies Cessna 172s. He is a former Panel Attorney with the Pilot Protection Services program. The AOPA Legal Services Plan is offered as part of AOPA’s Pilot Protection Services.
Topics: Pilot Protection Services, Buying and Selling an Aircraft

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