Landlord won’t let tenant put up satellite TV dish

Special to The Times

Question: A few months ago I bought a new satellite dish and system. Now I am moving into a new apartment. The owners told me I cannot install the satellite dish even if it is not directly attached to the building. The satellite company has numerous ways to put a dish on the roof without drilling holes into the building, and I am willing to run the cables in through a window to avoid drilling holes.

I called the satellite company to stop service, and they told me that the FCC prohibits owners from not allowing dishes. Can the owner stop me from installing the dish on the roof?

Answer: The owner can prohibit you from installing a satellite dish on the roof of the building. However, if the owners are prohibiting all dish installations at the property, then they may have their signals crossed.

Under FCC Order 98-273, you are permitted to install a dish on “premises that are within the leasehold and under the exclusive use or control of the viewer.” That does not include the roof because it is not within your leasehold or under your exclusive use or control. It can include balconies, balcony railings, terraces, patios, yards or gardens.

There also are a number of reasonable limitations the owner may impose. They include the right to disallow installation on outside walls, roofs, windowsills, common-area balconies and stairwells.


Owners also can demand indemnification, liability insurance and an additional security deposit, unless the maximum legal security deposit already is being held by the owner, an amount equal to two months’ rent for unfurnished apartments and three months’ for furnished.

No law against ugly carpeting

Question: I moved into my Alhambra apartment in July 2002. The carpet was OK, but now I’ve grown to hate its ugly brown color. Are there any rules about how often carpet must be changed?

Answer: I recommend that you be sure you really like and want an apartment before you move into it. That’s especially true if you are signing a long-term lease and could be liable for unpaid rent if you decide to move out before the lease expires.

Since the color of carpet is an aesthetic issue, unlike health or safety issues, which are covered by state law, there are no rules or laws regarding replacement. However, the saying that “everything’s negotiable in real estate” still can apply here.

Although it’s better to try to negotiate with the owner to install new carpeting in an apartment before you move in, all may not be lost. The owner may be willing to consider getting new carpet if you are willing to pay for it, or for some of it, or if you are willing to pay a higher rent.

‘Month-to-month’ means exactly that

Question: My former landlady insisted that I sign a month-to-month rental agreement but then included a minimum nine-month tenancy in the agreement. Did you say in a recent column that it is illegal to require a minimum length of tenancy, other than 30 days, for month-to-month tenancies, and that minimum tenancies of a certain number of months were only effective in lease situations?

Answer: That is correct. Courts have ruled that a month-to-month tenancy is just that, a tenancy that runs from month to month, with one small exception. Under a recently enacted California law, an owner must give you, the tenant, a 60-day notice to leave if the owner wants you to move out of an apartment under a month-to-month agreement and you have lived in the apartment for one year or longer. If you have lived in the apartment for less than one year, a 30-day notice still suffices.

You are still allowed to give the owner a 30-day notice of your intention to move out of an apartment in a month-to-month tenancy regardless of how long you have lived there.


Postema is the editor of Apartment Age magazine, a publication of the Apartment Assn. of Greater Los Angeles, an apartment owners’ service group. E-mail questions about apartment living to Aptlife, c/o Kevin Postema, or mail to AAGLA, c/o Kevin Postema, 621 S. Westmoreland Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90005.