Who pays for aerial?

Question from Kevin updated on 25th June 2013:

I have a rental and a new tenant moved in four weeks ago. There is a SKY TV dish that was installed by a previous tenant without my permission and it was left there when they departed. No questions were asked by the new tenant of me as to whether it worked etc. Now they advise me they can't get Freeview or TV and are expecting me to repair/replace the SKY dish. I don't think there is any other TV aerial installed in the house. I don't see it as my problem to repair/replace the aerial but is a matter for the tenant to sort out. What is your advice?

Our expert Alan Bruce responded:

The Residential Tenancies Act 1986 (the Act) does not specifically make reference to aerials or antennas. Under the Act, landlords have an obligation to maintain the premises in a reasonable state of repair, which may include maintaining aerials or antennas where one is provided by the landlord as part of the tenancy. However, where an aerial or antenna is not provided as part of the tenancy, there is no specific obligation on a landlord to provide one. Where an aerial or antenna is present at the premises but is not provided or included as part of the tenancy, the landlord should notify the tenants that the facility is excluded from the tenancy agreement to ensure all parties are well aware of what is included prior to entering into a tenancy arrangement, and to avoid any misunderstanding. I suggest you discuss the matter with your tenant to try and reach an agreement in the first instance (also noting that the Sky dish remains the property of Sky (and not the landlord), and the problem or connection issues may be resolved by discussing the matter directly with Sky). If an agreement cannot be reached, either party may apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to have the matter resolved. Also worth noting is that where a tenant wishes to install any fixture to the premises, they need to obtain the prior written consent of the landlord (which the landlord cannot unreasonably withhold). In this situation, the landlord and tenant should agree what will happen to the fixture at the end of the tenancy (e.g. if the fixture is to be removed by the tenant, and responsibility for damage caused during removal), with the details of that agreement recorded in writing, preferably on the tenancy agreement. To discuss your situation further, or for information about making an application to the Tenancy Tribunal, you can visit the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment – Building and Housing Group’s website (www.dbh.govt.nz), or call 0800 TENANCY (0800 836 262).

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment provides information and guidance on building law and compliance, services including weathertight homes, and advice for tenants and landlords.

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