Satellite dishes – to stay or not to stay?

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One of the grey areas in rental and sales agreements is the question whether certain fixtures to properties are regarded as part of the immovable property by virtue of attachment to the fixed structure.  Recently we have seen an increase in complaints relating to tenants or sellers removing DSTV or other satellite dishes when vacating a property.

Unless the matter is strictly addressed (i.e. included or excluded) in the Deed of Sale or rental agreement we need to ascertain what the legal test would be. The law identifies three factors to take into consideration in assessing whether an item is a fixture, namely:

  1. The nature and the purpose of the item: the item should by its very nature be intended to be permanent and to form part of the property;
  2. The manner and degree of attachment: the item must lose its individual identity and form part of the property or involve substantial damage if it is removed;
  3. The intention of the owner: the intention of the owner at the time of the attachment

Taking the above factors into account we would be in a fairly strong position to argue that a satellite dish would not form part of the permanent fixtures of a property.  A satellite dish is in essence a luxury item and not a necessity for a property to function properly.  Furthermore, a dish can relatively easily be removed without causing major structural damage and does not form part of the property as its usefulness is directly linked to the decoder device and not to the property.

In conclusion, a satellite dish can be removed unless the agreement specifically excludes the removal of the device.  We would advise all home owners intending to sell to specifically identify their intention to remove the dish.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

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