Every year about this time (March), a landlord will find tenants asking about their policy for satellite dishes. Why March? Probably the college basketball tournaments are in full gear!
Many years ago, requests to install satellite dishes were just odd enough they were easy to decline. This is no longer the case. As long as the dishes are not prohibited by the Homeowners Association or some other local ordinance, it now is something we must address with full consideration of the tenant.
Plus the feds say we have to.
Why Landlords Did Not Like Satellite Dishes
In older times, the primary reasons landlords declined satellite dishes were:
- Safety issues
- Concern for property damages
- Ugly appearance
Remember the old days when a satellite dish looked like this?
It was easy to use any of the above reasons to decline a tenant request to install a satellite dish. But, the times have changed.
Declining Your Tenant May Be Against the Law
Yikes! The feds are involved in this area of our lives as landlords. Did you know that?
Known as FCC Order 98-273 or the FCC Satellite Rule, this law states that landlords cannot ban satellite dishes from a rental property.
As long as the satellite dish is 40 inches or smaller in diameter, it must be allowed on the property when installed by a professional. The law allows the landlord to supervise installation and impose reasonable restrictions about dish placement.
The FCC order does allow landlords to create reasonable restrictions on how satellite dishes may be installed. Examples of acceptable restrictions:
- Installation must be within private rental space so as it does not interfere with other tenants enjoyment of the premises
- Landlord or a property manager may insist on being present at installation.
- A landlord may require renter’s insurance from the tenant that covers the liability related to a satellite dish.
Issues With A Satellite Dish In Your Rental
The law does not restrict landlords from having tenants (and satellite service providers and installers) from signing an agreement. This agreement specifically outlines the terms of the granted permission to place a dish on the property.
We have created a Request and Authorization For A Satellite Dish agreement that specifically addresses the issues associated with satellite dishes in rentals. This document provides:
- Details and restrictions regarding installation.
- Requires a deposit to be held by the manager and added to the existing security deposit.
- Cleanly gets the Tenant on the record for acknowledging their liability for repairs if the dish does any damage to the property.
Besides qualifying the size of a dish, and where and how it must be installed, the wires need to be hidden. Most of your tenants wont do a good job at that. Exposed wiring needs to be addressed and not allowed in your agreement.
This is always the biggest concern. Bad installation (professional installer or not) can cause leaks, weather related issues, damage to other mechanical components or the roof. Poor installation could cause a dish to come loose and hurt another person!
The installation rules are the most helpful as they are so specific. Here is a sample you can borrow for your authorization document.
NO DRILLING THROUGH FLOORING. Cable must be drilled up into wall with the appropriate cable jack.
NO RUNNING OR ATTACHING CABLING ON THE EXTERIOR OF THE BUILDING FOR MORE THAN TWO FEET. Cable must be run in the crawl space or attic.
NO CABLE ON THE EXTERIOR OF THE BUILDING. SATELLITE DISHES ARE NOT TO BE MOUNTED ON THE BUILDING OR THROUGH SHINGLES ON THE ROOF. Dishes must be mounted on a pole in a bucket or on a tripod that is removed when the tenant vacates.
Don’t just ignore a tenant installing anything on your property. Make sure it is a lease violation to have a tenant, without permission, install a satellite dish.
End of Lease
You also need to address what happens when a tenant leaves the property. In the satellite dish authorization be sure and require a deposit from the tenant. That way, when the tenant leaves, if they do not properly uninstall and remove the satellite dish and related wiring, there are funds available to pay the costs of removal.
Find ways to give specific rules, instructions and deposits. Make it clear to the tenant your expectations. Create a satellite dish authorization form to protect your interests.
After all, it is March Madness.