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Digital TV switchover

Digital Swtichover dilemma

I was contacted the other day by my tenant pointing out that she was only able to receive 10 out of the 50 or so channels now available to us through Freeview and the wonderful new age of digital TV.
Given that I’ve never had satellite TV or cable TV or anything ‘flashy’ like that; my initial thoughts were “Well you’ve got 10 channels, what more do you want?” This reaction was reinforced by the fact that I’d just installed a new boiler at the property as well as paying out for various repairs on her windows. Enough was enough.


However, on greater reflection I decided that this wasn’t a particularly responsible or professional approach to take. So I thought I’d examine more carefully what a landlords’ position is on this. The starting point for all tenancy issues should always be the tenancy agreement.

Having pored over the tenancy agreement there was no mention of TV, aerials or any other kind of telecom installation. Interestingly; going to the primary legislation contained in section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 no mention of TV or telecoms is made there either.

The legislation states:

11, Repairing obligations in short leases.

(1)In a lease to which this section applies (as to which, see sections 13 and 14) there is implied a covenant by the lessor—

(a)to keep in repair the structure and exterior of the dwelling-house (including drains, gutters and external pipes),

(b)to keep in repair and proper working order the installations in the dwelling-house for the supply of water, gas and electricity and for sanitation (including basins, sinks, baths and sanitary conveniences, but not other fixtures, fittings and appliances for making use of the supply of water, gas or electricity), and

(c)to keep in repair and proper working order the installations in the dwelling-house for space heating and heating water.

More on this can be found on this Landlord Zone forum thread

This absence of any reference to a landlords responsibility could well be because at the time, TV or telecoms provision was seen as a luxury rather than what now most tenants would consider an essential. It would be an interesting test case to see how the courts would respond to a tenant bringing a case against a landlord who failed to keep their TV aerial in good repair?

The TV realities.

The reality is that most tenants view TV and good broadband access as essential. It’s highly unlikely that a tenant will argue the toss over the condition of the TV reception. Many; especially younger professional tenants will simply give notice and leave.

Upgrading of the aerial

What landlords need to be careful of is rushing out and employing a TV aerial engineer to install an expensive upgrade of their aerials. There are plenty of cowboy operators out there that will take hundreds of pounds from you for unnecessary work.

For example, in my case it turns out that Nottingham is an in between period where the digital is switched on but the analogue has not been fully switched off. It may well be that the limited channels that my tenant is receiving could be due to this.

The other reason is that the Freeview viewers in the area will need to do a full re-tune (sometimes called ‘first time installation’ or ‘factory reset’) of their TV or box at both stages of switchover and from time to time to keep receiving channels and services. Once that is done the full digital service should be available. If you are unsure whether you need to upgrade your aerial then there are a couple of tests to see if your aerial is up to it.

I recently heard about one landlord who had the number of TV channel jump from 30 to 100+ once the analogue signal was switched off.

Therefore it could well be that my slightly dilatory attitude may well be the best course of action. Not rushing out and purchasing an all singing and dancing digital aerial costing hundreds of pounds on an unnecessary upgrade. My tenant may still end up with her digital TV nirvahna at no cost to me.

Only time will tell!

The digital switchover has been a complete mess, some are able to get reduced power signals, others only some programs, and after more than one changeover date, they have to re-tune the freeview box all over again, and hope for the best. Some in remoter areas are losing valuable programs for ever, such as ITV3, because the powers that be have not installed them at the remote transmitters, mostly on cost grounds. This has affected many old people and those with learning difficulties, as they must pay £40+ for an engineer to come and fix it for them. Since all this has been orchestrated by the BBC, what do you expect?
S Granger

Discounted landlord insurance with Alan Boswell

One Comment

The first UK digital provider was ITV Digital, backed by Carlton and Granada. This was so great it went bust. It’s replacement, Freeview, is a consortium which includes the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Sky, and Arqiva. The frequency allocations and changes are controlled by the government. So can’t bash the BBC for the switchover. Nice try though.

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