Mr E made a formal complaint about his landlord refusing his application to install a satellite dish. He complained that the tenancy agreement and landlord’s policy both allowed for a satellite to be installed and other residents had done this. Prior to signing the tenancy agreement, Mr E had noticed that there was a ‘hotbird’ satellite (Polish TV) on the building and presumed that his flat may be able to connect to this.
Mr E said that the refusal was in breach of his Article 10 rights under the Human Rights Act 1998 – the right to freedom of expression including the right to receive and impart information. Mr E said that the refusal was an unreasonable interference with his right to have access to TV from his native country. Mr E was also dissatisfied with the landlord’s delay in processing his request.
The landlord responded through its complaint procedure and apologised for the delay in processing the request. It partially upheld the complaint on this basis but said that the refusal was in accordance with the tenancy agreement and the tenant’s handbook.
We assessed that it was reasonable for the landlord to conclude, based on the tenancy agreement and its policy, that it could refuse permission for a satellite dish. It also provided a reasonable explanation as to why it had introduced the policy. However, though it is beyond the remit of the Ombudsman to interpret judgements passed by the European Court of Human Rights (as cited in the landlord’s response), we can determine whether a landlord has suitably considered appropriate guidance in making a decision. In this instance, we noted that the landlord had not complied with guidance as set out by the Equality and Human Rights Commission on the terms of a tenancy agreement.
We found service failure on behalf of the landlord and ordered it to pay £50 to Mr E in recognition of its failure to properly investigate. We also recommended that the landlord review Mr E’s application in light of its obligations under the Human Rights Act as set out within the guidance.