Satellite Dish Wars: Landlords vs. Tenants

Tenants and landlords may not see eye to eye when it comes to bringing satellite service into a rental property.
No matter how badly tenants want a satellite dish, landlords often refuse to allow installation for safety issues, fear of property damage, or ruining the aesthetics.
Tenants and landlords must learn how to meet in the middle regarding satellite dishes to ensure that both parties get what they want.

Can my landlord prohibit me from installing a satellite dish?

Landlords are prohibited from restricting a tenant’s ability to get satellite dishes and antennas placed in private rented space as long as the installation of these devices meets appropriate criteria, according to the Federal Communications Commission Order 98-273.
Also 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 in private rented space when installed by a professional. The law allows the landlord to supervise installation and impose reasonable restrictions about dish placement.

My renter put up a satellite dish without my permission

My renter put up a satellite dish without my permission

Landlords often don’t want satellite dishes because they worry about improper installation, which could result in property damage. If the tenant doesn’t follow the lease then they or the installer can be held responsible for damages.

Here are some of the issues landlords are concerned about:

  • Poor installation can lead to weatherproofing problems with walls and roofs and might interfere with electrical, HVAC or plumbing systems.
  • An improperly installed satellite dish could become dislodged, fall and hurt someone.
  • Because satellite dishes must be installed outside, such as on a wall, roof, patio or balcony, the dish and the accompanying wires can look unsightly.

Because of these possibilities, FCC Order 98-273 allows landlords to create reasonable restrictions to better regulate the installation process at their rental properties.

Examples of Reasonable Restrictions

FCC Order 98-273 supports the installation of satellite dishes in private rental space, such as an apartment balcony, patio, deck or terrace wholly within the individual tenant’s rental area.
Landlords can ban dish installation in common areas and impose additional restrictions and conditions for dishes, as long as they are considered reasonable.
Here are three examples of reasonable restrictions that a landlord might implement:

  1. A landlord could restrict the location of all dishes installed at the apartment complex to the inside wall of each apartment’s balcony, and insist that they cannot hang over a common area, such as a sidewalk.
  2. A landlord can be present at all installations and has the final say on whether the installer drills small holes in the wall for cables or simply passes cables under windows or doors.
  3. A landlord would be able to include a mandatory requirement that a tenant carry renter’s insurance to cover any injuries, accidents or damages to the property or other people from a satellite dish.

So, should I have my tenant remove the satellite dish

Because it is a tenant’s right to receive communication signals via satellite dish at the property he or she is renting, it’s time for landlords to embrace the inevitable and try to control the method and placement of dishes to minimize damage, keep tenants and guests safe, and preserve the look of the rental property.

Satellite dish stand for apartments

Rather than attach a satellite to the rental house it can be a nice compromise to get a satellite stand.
The image below will take you to an Amazon listing or a satellite dish stand for apartments. Just be sure to read reviews before purchasing through our affiliate link.

Note: This article is provided for informational purposes only.  No information provided in this article should be considered legal advice.  If you have legal questions, please consult an attorney who is licensed to practice law in your area.


  1. Hi Steve,
    I’m dealing with this issue right now with a potential landlord. It’s complicated by the fact that the landlord charges residents an additional $75 with the rent for TWC Cable/Internet. I’ve advised them of the FCC rule & asked to opt out of the arrangement they have for the cable/internet. I’m hoping they will agree so I can keep my direct tv & not be expected to pay that $75 fee. Any suggestions on what else I might try?

    • Hey MJ, sounds like your landlord has an ancillary service agreement and is likely getting some perks for offering the TWC. This is not that uncommon and there is nothing underhanded about it, but knowing this might help you with your negotiations. Since the landlord actually has “something” to lose by you not using TWC, I would suggest making him feel like you’re too good of a tenant to lose over the cable service. The key is to not come off like a jerk, but let the landlord know you’re a good long-term tenant (assuming you are) and there is some sort of win-win for letting you have a dish. At the end of the day, every landlord wants to know that they have a good/stable tenant, so the benefit of keeping you around should outweigh whatever small kickback he’s getting for the group cable deal.
      Good Luck and keep me posted on how it turns out for you.

  2. I live in an apartment but the Management does not allow satellite companies or another cable company different to AT & T. My contract with AT & T expired last month and they automatically tripled my Internet service and increased twice the cable service. Is it legal what is doing the management company? Can I install a satellite dish inside my apartment without permission of the Administrator?

  3. Here is the “official” opinion on the topic.
    FCC Order 98-273 supports the installation of satellite dishes in private rental space, such as an apartment balcony, patio, deck or terrace wholly within the individual tenant’s rental area. Landlords can ban dish installation in common areas and impose additional restrictions and conditions for dishes, as long as they are considered reasonable.
    Now, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t at least try to get permission. If they say no, I would explain that you have the right to be able to choose your provider. And as long as you don’t need the dish in a common area, you should be able to have the service you want.

    • I really appreciate your answer, although the building manager insists I have no legal rights to install any device -including a dish – even inside of my apartment. The Manager explained me they signed a contract with ATT&T so this company made the TV cable and Internet installation when the building was under construction in exchange of exclusivity. Besides, ATT&T has obligation of making the maintenance. Our problem is ATT&T is abusing of such monopoly raising rates in prohibitive figures.

  4. Emilio, you’re correct. This is the very definition of a monopoly and it’s not legal.
    I have to say it but I can almost guarantee what the situation is… Property owners can make affiliate revenue on ancillary services like cable and internet. Of course they make more money the more people they have using the services.
    A lot of times landlords do this with the right intentions, to save tenants money because often discounts are made available for such arrangements. But even in these situations the tenants have the ultimate say in who they want to use for services.
    Sorry to hear you’ve got this problem. Depending on how much you’re willing to fight it, I’d say you have a clear case of abuse here.

    • In other circumstances I ‘d fight the abuse and violation of FCC laws with teeth and nails….Unfortunately my friend, I’m a senior disabled person still trying to put in order my narrow budget after losing my house several years ago. Anyway, I deeply appreciate your tips.

  5. My landlord allowed us to put a satellite dish on the roof of our garage apt. Now she is trying to deduct $150 from our security deposit for “professional removal” of the dish – is that legal? Doesn’t it become her responsibility once it’s up? (nevermind that the dish is still there – and I don’t think she has any plan to actually remove it, only charge us for it)

  6. I’m sure from the landlords perspective she would have liked to be informed of the service, but I’m not sure if it’s illegal.
    If the satellite is being moved for aesthetics, for example she doesn’t like the looks of it on the balcony, she should pay the fees. If it’s on a roof or somewhere that it not considered your area, you can be help responsible for the fees.

  7. Anna, I think $50 is a reasonable removal fee but you may have a hard time collecting it if you didn’t disclose the charges ahead of time. You may have verbally mentioned the importance of removing the dish, but at the end of the day a verbal notification is as good as a screen door on a submarine.
    For next time, be sure to include the removal fee in the addendum. Chances are the mere mention of the charge’s existence will deter a tenant from just leaving it behind.

  8. You would have the right to reasonable restrictions, which would include placement. I would issue a written notice that you require the dishes to be moved and give a reasonable timeline to do so. If the time comes and the request is not met, treat the situation as a lease violation.

  9. My handicapped bro is living in a federal subsidized apt complex. They had a contract with a local tv but the company went under & no longer is in service. The apt complex has been without tv for months. The occupants have no indication of news nor weather in case of emergency nor enjoyment of watching tv shows. These occupants are disabled due to age or health & now just sit bored in their Apts. The complex manager is denying them of satellite services. Plus the complex limits them to only two or theee parking places. The complex has about 60 Apt’s which can only be rented to disable occupants. This is the only handicap complex in the town or within miles. Do these poor occupants deserve the right to conveniences, & the pursuit to safety & happiness?

  10. The landlord at a new complex has given me a bill added onto next month’s rent of $400 for having a satellite dish on my patio. No where in the lease does it show there is a fee for choosing dish over cable. Is this fee legal?

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