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Digital TV – Whose Responsibility Is It?

The West Coast has made a start and Christchurch is following suit on 28 April 2013 - we're switching to digital television. While we have all seen Seymour, the robot dog, jump across our TV screens, announcing the change, you might be wondering whose responsibility the new TV equipment is when it comes to rentals in Christchurch.

According to the Department of Building and Housing, switching to digital TV is up to the tenant. From 28 April 2013 analogue television won't be available in Christchurch and the South Island anymore. This means if you don't have Sky TV, Telstra Clear or Freeview you'll have to buy a set-top box, satellite dish or UHF aerial to watch Freeview.

If a rental property in Christchurch isn't set up for digital TV and the tenant knew this at the start of the tenancy, it is usually their responsibility to get the necessary equipment. However, the Department of Building and Housing says that the tenant should check with the landlord before installing digital TV: "As the equipment might be seen to be a fixture, the tenant must first seek permission from the landlord to install that equipment themselves. The landlord would not be able to unreasonably withhold that permission." 

Since any tenant can remove their own fixtures at the end of a tenancy as long as this doesn't cause irreparable damage to the home, many landlords prefer to install the digital equipment themselves. It is then up to the tenant to maintain it.

It's best for landlords/property managers and tenants to get in touch in order to work out who owns the equipment and who will be responsible for repairs and maintenance.