Satellite Dishes

The Toronto Star − Condo Living Section
Condo Living sent the following question to Shlomo Sharon, President, Taft Forward Property Management Group


I have noticed more and more mini-satellite dishes appearing on balconies all over the city. I live in a high-rise condominium and wonder if I need to get permission to install my own dish. What's involved in getting permission? And if cable is already included in common expenses, can I have my monthly fees reduced if I don't use the cable any more?


Welcome to the age of satellite dishes and worldwide communication. The first thing that one should do is to review the declaration, bylaws and rules and regulations of your condominium corporation. You may find an outright prohibition against satellite dishes or a statement of what is required by an owner wishing to install a satellite dish. This usually starts with the consent of the board of directors.

If the documentation is silent on this issue, Section 98 of the Condominium Act sets out what is required where an owner wants to make an addition, alteration or improvement to the common elements. Check your declaration to determine if the satellite dish would be installed on part of the common elements, which would mean it falls under Section 98 of the Act. In all likelihood, your installation will be on the exterior, which is most likely to be part of the common elements.

First, contact the board of directors for its approval of the installation of the satellite dish. The board must pass a resolution to allow the installation.

Next you must enter into an agreement with the corporation, through the board of directors. This agreement sets out the respective duties and responsibilities of the corporation and you, as an owner. It would include such items as maintenance, insurance, and repairs after damage. Usually the costs relating to the agreement and the installation would be at the owner's expense.

The agreement must be registered in the Land Registry Office against title to your unit before it can be effective.

If the satellite dish is being installed on the "exclusive use" common elements, Section 98 sets out what criteria the board will look at to determine whether or not to approve the installation. Balconies on high-rise buildings are most often exclusive-use common elements.

If this is the case in your situation, the board will need to determine first that the installation of the dish won't have an adverse effect on units owned by other owners. It will also have to make sure the change would not result in any expense to the corporation. The board will also need to ensure that it won't detract from the appearance of the buildings, affect the structural integrity of the buildings, or contravene the declaration.

If the cost of cable is included as part of your common expense, you're stuck with it. If an agreement is in place with the corporation to provide this service, then all owners are obligated to pay their share. It doesn't matter if you use all the facilities or services at your condominium; all owners pay for all expenses that are common, regardless of usage.

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