Satellite Dishes, Drop Box, Dogs

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Q. I can’t take it anymore, every time I visit my building, there is another satellite dish bolted to my facia or attached to the roof. It’s not just the satellite dish folks; I’m having the same problem with the cable guys. They spread cable all over my brand-new roof, leave nails and screws scattered all around, and certainly are causing premature wear to the roof by all of their activities up there and, of course, all without my permission. No one should be on my roof! What do I do?

A.
The problem you describe is one that owners have been facing for years. Often it is the tenants who are the cause of the improper installation, but recently we’ve noticed the problems are more often caused by the actual dish or cable provider, by one of their subcontractors or employees. The trans gres sions are many; certainly, the installation by attaching the dish to your building facia or structure, and the stringing of cable on your roof is neither permitted by the rental agreement, nor by law.

More importantly, the entry upon your roof without your permission is an illegal trespass. The damage caused to your roof by directly attaching the dish to facia, or by the scattered nails and other debris working their way into the roofing material causing the roof membrane to leak are certainly unacceptable and are actionable. Don’t be surprised when your roofing contractor seeks to void his warranty due to your failure to prevent persons from abusing the roof, the lack of maintenance by allowing nails, screws and debris to remain on the roof, and the intentional penetrations of the roof membrane by the installers.

Enforcing the terms of the agreement against the tenant is, of course, the obvious choice, but not necessarily the best. In strong rental markets, a notice of default could be served on the tenant requiring the tenant to correct the problem, and if he failed to do so, evict him. Once evicted, the replacement tenant then moves in, calls the dish or cable guys, and the exact same problem happens again, deja vu. Problem solved? No.

In the current rental market, owners want to solve the problem, keep it from re-occurring, and yet maintain the tenancy if at all possible. The best solution in today’s market, assuming the installation was not done by the resident, is to put the resident on notice of the breach, and with the tenant’s cooperation, demand that the dish or cable installer correct the problem, and repair any damage done to the roof. A written demand should be served upon the dish or cable provider, as well as the installer, that you intend to pursue them civilly and will seek damages for their trespass on to your property, the roof, for recovery of the damages you have suffered and will suffer due to the damage to the roof and facia, and for further damages due to their “unfair business practices” of engaging in illegal activity, trespassing and causing damage to property. Provide them a reasonable amount of time (ten days) to contact you to make arrangements to remove the offending equipment and to repair any damage done to your roof. Upon receipt of your letter, or your attorney’s letter, the provider will certainly prefer to correct the situation and will certainly not repeat the transgression on your property.

Q. I’ve been thinking of installing a drop box somewhere on my property so that the residents can put their rent checks in it. I’m thinking I’ll save them a stamp and get the rents sooner. Any problem with doing this?

A.
Many landlords do exactly that, most with absolutely no problems whatsoever. If you are considering the practice, it is very important to install a secure box that cannot be removed or broken into and provide your residents with written procedures regarding the use of the drop box. Specifically, inform the residents that use of the box is optional; that they may use it for their convenience, but that there always is a risk of loss or theft. Rent will not be considered paid until you actually receive their check. And of course, never deposit cash.

Also provide the residents with a physical address where they can personally deliver the rent, not a PO Box, if they prefer not to deposit the rent into the drop box. By not requiring the use of the drop box, the resident will bear the risk of loss, until you actually receive the rent. If you mandate the use of a drop box, and fail to provide a physical address for payment, or require payment to be made to a PO Box, courts will find that the risk of loss transfers to you upon their placement in the drop box, or in the mail.

Q. Most of my rental units are large and many have an enclosed yard. I think that tenants with dogs tend to stay longer because not many buildings accept pets, so I allow my tenants to have pets. I recently received a letter from a resident complaining that another resident’s dog growled and seemed to lunge at her poodle. Now, I like dogs, not necessarily poodles, nervous little creatures, I think that the poodle probably started it, but I don’t know for sure. Anyway, no harm done, no bites, no blood - should I be concerned?

A.
Yes. Although you are not the owner of the dog and would not directly be responsible for any injuries that may result from a vicious dog attack, you may be held responsible based upon the theory that you, as a landowner, allowed a dangerous condition, the vicious dog, to remain on your premises. Once you are on notice of any dangerous propensity, either a bite or even an aggressive growl, you must take action to eliminate the threat of injury. Many juries will extend liability beyond the dog’s owner to the landlord if the landlord knew or should have known of the dog’s dangerous propensities yet took no action to eliminate the danger.


This article is presented in a general nature to address typical landlord tenant legal issues. Specific inquiries regarding a particular situation should be addressed to your attorney. Stephen C. Duringer is the founder of The Duringer Law Group, PLC, one of the largest and most experienced landlord tenant law firms in the country. The firm has successfully handled over 255,000 landlord tenant matters throughout California, and has collected over $155,000,000.00 in debt since 1988. The firm may be reached at 714-279-1100 or 800-829-6994. Please visit www.DuringerLaw.com for more information.

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