Satellite dishes: Should I give permission?

Long gone are the days where an evening’s entertainment is confined to only four channels. With thousands of channels offering unlimited options, it is no surprise that many tenants are keen to have satellite tv options installed in their rental properties.

So, if a renter requests a satellite service, what should a landlord say? After all, with satellite dishes adorning the roof and cabling snaking through the inside, installing entertainment isn’t always a simple job. 

On the flip side, once the components are in place to receive satellite services they will remain in situ even after the current tenant leaves and this can be a real selling point for future tenants, who wouldn’t have to worry about arranging installation themselves!

Getting appropriate permissions

Any permanent changes that a tenant wants to make to a rental property should of course be ok’d by the landlord, and having satellite TV fitted should be no different.

Whether the subscription requires the installation of a dish or just internal cabling, changes are required to be made to the property, and as such it is important that the landlord gives their full approval before the tenant proceeds.

As well as being good rental practice, there are certain elements of an installation that a tenant may not have considered – failing to tick all of the correct boxes before pressing ahead could leave the property owner in trouble!

For example, if the landlord is a leaseholder, they may have to get the permission of the freeholder before making changes to the exterior of the property. This could mean reaching out for permission for a tenant to erect a satellite dish. On the flip side, there may be strict rules in place over whether dishes are allowed at all, they may be deemed to infringe on common areas of the property (the exterior) and be against the rules. Installing one dish could break the terms of a landlord’s lease.

Even if the property isn’t bound by a leasehold agreement, there are other potential pitfalls to consider. Blocks of flats often have limits to how many dishes are allowed (more on managing this below) and listed buildings are unlikely to be granted planning permission to erect a dish.

If you are unsure if your property is bound by any planning permission regulations, clear guidelines are available in the Householders Guide to Antennas and the Government’s Planning Portal.

Is there a chance of damage?

If your tenant is having a reputable organisation carry out the satellite dish installation, there should be no major concerns about damage.

The installer will attend the property and assess the best location for the dish, and any internal cabling. The dish installation will require a hole to be drilled through the property’s external wall to allow a cable to be passed through, and then the dish will be mounted onto the external wall. The engineer will position the dish to be angled to pick up the satellites required to access the service – usually this is south facing. The dish will be positioned in a location that it can be accessed for maintenance, if needed. Depending on the location of the dish, the installer may need to drill a hole in the external wall to secure their ladders, however all holes will be made good.

Ask to be present during the installation so you are able to query any issues you have a concern over. If there are any problems with damage, raise them with the service provider. Sky have an Engineer Complaints Department and if a complaint is made a manager will be sent out to review the situation and resolve it. It is worth noting that Sky does use third party engineers for communal set ups and work higher than first floors.

With a dish in situ, it is advisable to add the dish to your list of points to check when you carry out your maintenance checks on the property – they can be sensitive to high winds, so make sure you keep an eye on it if the weather takes a turn! If your property is overseen by a letting agent or property management agent, be sure to let them know that it has been installed and should be monitored.

Tenancy agreements

If there are any strong elements one way or another regarding the installation of satellite tv services, it is wise to include details in the tenancy agreement, so that your tenant is aware of the situation from the start of the process. This would be a reasonable restriction, if it was made clear from the start. 

If the property’s permissions prohibit the installation of a satellite dish, consider including a clause in the agreement specifically prohibiting them. Most agreements include a general clause prohibiting changes to the property without consent, however it is wise to be very clear if there is a specific issue, such as the potential breach of a leasehold.

If a tenant chooses to ignore this clause, they are in breach of the rental agreement and the landlord would have options with regards to how to proceed.  Eviction proceedings could be started, using a Section 8 notice using ground 12 (Breach of tenancy obligation) or a Section 21 no-fault notice. The Section 8 notice has a two-week notice period, but is a discretionary ground, meaning its success is down to a Judge’s decision. With this in mind, if eviction is the end goal, a Section 21 no-fault notice, with a two-month notice period, is a more reliable option.

If the issue is not quite so severe as to want to evict tenants, but damage has been caused in the installation of the dish, it is possible to highlight this to a deposit protection scheme at the end of the tenancy. Rectifying the issue may require remedial work, the cost of which can be recovered from the tenant’s security deposit.

Alternative options

Before worrying too much about the impact of a satellite dish on the aesthetic of your property, you could look into the possibility of ‘dishless’ options instead.

Sky provide the Sky Q option which is able to be installed without a dish – instead being delivered through a box via a broadband connection. Virgin Media is delivered through cable, which prevents the need for a dish – however this isn’t available everywhere, so make sure to check.