This is a state by state guide to the residential tenancy rules with regard to Digital TV. Problems with Digital TV reception are a frequent cause of disputes between tenants and landlords. It’s intended to assist renters to understand their rights. The rules regarding required services vary from state to state.
Important Note: The information provided here is to be used as a quick guide only, it doesn’t represent legal advice and we make no guarantees to its accuracy. In case of dispute, consult with relevant agencies in your state.
If you still can’t get Digital TV via an outdoor antenna after exploring all the options below, see our article on alternative options for Digital TV for Renters.
Digital TV is not a Required Service
Rental properties are not required by regulation to have Digital TV services available. So where a property does not currently have a TV antenna, the landlord has no obligation to install one.
If there isn’t an antenna, you can ask the landlord to install an antenna for Digital TV but they aren’t required to.
If the tenant wanted to have a TV antenna installed at their own cost, they would have to seek permission from the landlord first.
If there is an existing antenna
In all states and territories of Australia, a landlord is required to keep the fixtures of the house in good working order. So if the property has an antenna and antenna points, the landlord has a responsibility for these to be working. As the only form of TV broadcasting in Australia is digital now, the antenna system would have to work with Digital TV.
There’s no requirement for the landlord to upgrade a working antenna to a “Digital TV Antenna” if it works for digital reception.
Before moving in
Here’s our suggested checks to make prior to moving into a house:
- Check that the house has an antenna that looks to be in good order
- Check that the house has TV sockets in the places you want them, the agent should be able to advise you on where they are
- Be sure to check that the sockets listed on the entry report are in good condition and note if they appear to be damaged
- Note any sockets that are not on the entry report, these may have been unauthorised alterations by previous tenants
- If the TV antenna and sockets are not going to be maintained by the landlord this must be clearly stated before the lease is signed
Adding Additional TV Sockets, Pay TV or Other Services
In all states and territories a tenant may request reasonable minor alterations to a property. While “minor alterations” are not defined in legislation, usually the addition of a TV antenna, additional TV sockets or installation of Pay TV is covered by this rule.
The tenant must seek permission from the landlord prior to any alterations being done. You’ll usually be expected to pay for the cost of having a professional TV antenna technician do the job. The real estate agent may have a preferred contractor they require you to use. You will be required to use a qualified technician.
It’s important to note that in some cases the antenna may need replacement or the addition of an amplifier to be able to support additional sockets. This may be due to the condition of the antenna or the signal in the area. The tenant seeking the additional TV points will most likely be expected to cover the additional cost.
Does the Landlord have to give permission for the tenant to install TV sockets or other services?
In some states the landlord must not unreasonably deny permission for minor alterations. The state-by-state breakdown below is sourced from the websites of the various state and territory authorities.
The tenant may request minor alterations such as new TV sockets, but there is no obligation for the landlord to give permission.
New South Wales
Landlords cannot unreasonably refuse requests for minor alterations. The NSW Department of Fair Trading lists “having a phone line connected” and “connecting to pay television” as examples of what may be considered as alterations of a “minor nature”.
Australian Capital Territory
According to “The renting book”, tenants can request to make alterations to the property and the landlord can’t unreasonably deny permission.
A tenant must request permission from the landlord to install additional TV points or pay TV services. Consumer Affairs Victoria provides further information.
Consumer Affairs and Fair Trading Tasmania indicates that alterations and addition of fixtures cannot be done without the permission of the landlord.
The South Australian Government website indicates that a tenant can request permission to make alterations to support services like Digital TV and the landlord can’t unreasonably refuse consent.
Consumer Affairs Northern Territory indicates that a tenant must request permission to make alterations, such as adding TV points or Pay TV.
A tenancy agreement may or may not allow the tenant to make minor alterations like installing TV points or Pay TV. If the agreement allows changes with the landlord’s consent, consent must not be refused unreasonably. See page 15 of the WA Tenants Guide.
How to ask permission
Here is a template for an email you can send to your real estate agent or landlord, seeking permission to install a new TV point:
I/we are writing to seek permission to have [an additional TV socket/Foxtel] installed in [room]. The [tv point/foxtel socket] will be installed [location in room] at the same height on the wall as existing wall plates. The work will be done by a qualified technician at my/our expense. Thanks,
[your name(s) here]
Tips for seeking permission:
- Be as specific as possible about the installation(s) to be done
- Keep a copy of the letter giving permission on file
- You may need to provide a copy of the permission letter to the technician doing the work