Install a satellite dish

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One of my tenants wants to install a satellite dish. Do I have to allow this?

Answer

It depends. Tenants have specific rights to install satellite dishes, under Federal Communication Commission (FCC) rules. But tenants may do so only in their own, exclusive rented space, such as on a balcony, terrace, deck or patio. You can prohibit tenants from placing a satellite in common areas, such as on the roof of an apartment building, or from drilling through an exterior wall (even if that wall is also part of the tenant’s rental unit).

FCC rules apply to video antennas, including direct-to-home satellite dishes that are less than one meter (39.37 inches) in diameter (or any size in Alaska), TV antennas, and wireless cable antennas. FCC rules prohibit landlords from imposing restrictions that unreasonably impair tenants’ ability to install, maintain, or use an antenna or dish, as long as your restrictions are not unreasonably expensive or if the restrictions are imposed for safety reasons or to preserve historic aspects of the structure. For example, you can prohibit your tenant from installing a satellite device on a fire escape or near a walkway where people might accidentally hit their heads. As a backup, in case a tenant’s satellite dish injures someone, insist that tenants who install satellite dishes carry renters’ insurance.


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