Landlord Class Sues DirecTV

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – A federal class action claims that DirecTV permanently installs TV equipment on rental properties without the owners’ consent. Jacen Management, of Connecticut, says DirecTV leases its antennae and satellite dishes and sets them up on privately owned buildings without permission from the landlords.




     “Defendant knows that it is improper and illegal to install the equipment on a building without first obtaining the authorization of the landlord,” the complaint states.
     Jacen says that in adopting TV equipment regulations in the 1990s, the Federal Communications Commission “did not diminish the ability of landlords to prohibit the installation or use of such equipment in areas – including but not limited to common areas or restricted access areas – not within the tenant’s exclusive use or control.”
     Jacen claims that since tenants do not have control over the exterior walls of leased buildings, the FCC regulations do not authorize DirecTV to install satellite dishes without landlord authorization.
     To circumvent this, Jacen claims, DirecTV gives its subscribers the option of signing a release form stating that the landlord has “verbally approved” the installation, “which they could easily complete without actually obtaining any permission at all, knowing that DirecTV will accept their representation that the landlord has given ‘verbal’ permission.”
     The complaint contrasts DirecTV unfavorably to a competitor, DishNetwork. “Unlike defendant, DishNetwork will not install its satellite antennae upon a residential property without first obtaining written authorization from the landlord,” the complaint states.
     Jacen claims that DirecTV has installed satellite equipment for at least three of its tenants within the past 3 years, without even attempting to get permission.
     Jacen demands injunctive relief and damages for unfair competition. It is represented by Alan Plutzik with Bramson, Plutzik, Mahler and Birkhaeuser of Walnut Creek.

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