Landlords Can’t Ban Satellite Dishes

Landlords and condominium associations cannot prevent tenants from installing satellite dishes. The U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit upheld a Federal Communications Commission rule that leases, zoning ordinances and condominium association rules can not restrict a tenant’s right to install dishes, antennas and other telecommunications devices.

The original rule, which applied only to viewers with “an ownership interest” in the property, was expanded in 1998 to include renters. The FCC has interpreted the rule to permit the imposition of “reasonable” limits. Property owners who are concerned about liability for property damage and personal injury caused by improperly installed equipment should take the following precautions:

  1. Require a security deposit before the equipment is installed to cover any damages.
  2. Require the tenant to purchase liability insurance.
  3. List a hierarchy of places where the satellite dish is allowed, for example, below the eave line, back yard and front yard.