Association law

My housing association won’t let me have a satellite dish. Are they violating my human rights? – The Irish Times

I am writing to you about the installation of satellite dishes. Do you know where I could find advice that allows me to install a dish on the rack of my balcony. Is there an organization in Ireland where I can ask my question? This should be regulated by law, shouldn’t it?

My housing association refused my request to install a satellite dish, but some of my neighbors installed them. They are tenants of the same housing organization and they live in blocks next to mine. I read a newspaper article in which the European Court apparently ruled that having a satellite dish “is a human right”. I hope you can provide me with information on this.

Planning authorization

Erecting a satellite dish on a house is classed as an exempt development and therefore does not require planning permission, subject to a number of conditions, writes Siobhan Durkan. However, planning permission is required if a satellite dish is to be erected or installed associated with an apartment. This is because an apartment is only part of a structure; the apartment lease generally gives the owner of the apartment ownership of the interior of the apartment, with rights and easements over the common areas. The common parts of the building include the structural parts, the foundations, etc. and belong to the management company or the promoter. A balcony would typically be part of the common areas owned by the management company and therefore the management company would be the party applying for planning permission for the installation of a dish.

Enforcement action can be taken against the owner/occupant of the dwelling on which there is an unauthorized satellite dish. Any person notified of a notice of execution is required to reimburse the community for all costs related to the investigation, execution and rectification of the infringement of the town planning code. In addition, failure to comply with an enforcement notice can result in substantial fines and criminal prosecution. Fines imposed by the courts generally range from €1,500 to €2,000 plus costs.

Management company

Apartment leases typically impose restrictions on the part of apartment owners to include prohibitions on alterations or alterations to the apartment and restricting what can be placed on common areas. These restrictions generally include the installation of panels, satellite dishes or hanging clothes. It is argued that these are necessary for good property management and to maintain the overall level of development.

Failure to comply with the obligations of the lease may make the owner of the apartment liable for damages and lead to the forfeiture of the lease.

EU law

The European Commission has adopted a communication in which it states that individuals should be free to use satellite dishes without undue technical, administrative, town planning or fiscal obstacles. This right derives from the free movement of goods and services, both of which are fundamental to the freedoms of the internal market.

The Communication stresses that individuals, as end-users of these cross-border services, can invoke the free movement of goods and services, fundamental principles which must be directly applied in national law. Furthermore, the right to receive information by satellite dish is linked to the fundamental right to freedom of expression, which is established by the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Commission notes that the architectural and town planning concerns can be satisfied by solutions making it possible, when necessary and technically feasible, to minimize the visual and aesthetic impact of satellite dishes without altering the quality of reception, under reasonable conditions. and at Cost; such solutions may, for example, relate to the location of the dish (indoors rather than outdoors) or the type of dish (for example, a collective dish rather than many individual dishes).

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  • The European Commission has confirmed that individuals should be free to use satellite dishes without undue technical, administrative, town planning or fiscal obstacles.

You should check with satellite dish suppliers to explore what solutions may be available to minimize the visual and aesthetic impact of installing a satellite dish at a reasonable cost. Upon receipt of this, you must then approach the housing association to obtain its consent to install a satellite dish on the basis of your right to do so being recognized by EU law.

  • If you haven’t already, make sure you attend all housing association tenant meetings for your block and bring the issue directly to the housing association board, so that the administrators can either inform you of all actions taken to date to resolve the issue in question or review the options available to resolve the issues.
  • If you are a tenant of a housing association or other voluntary housing organisation, your tenancy is now covered by the legislation on tenancies. The Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) offers a confidential dispute resolution service. You can start the dispute resolution process if you are a tenant, landlord or otherwise directly affected by an issue (for example, if you are a neighbour).

Siobhán Durkan is a partner at P O’Connor & Son Lawyers