By: Helsing Admin

A homeowner writes: I live in a condominium and want to get satellite television reception. My Association is telling me that I cannot put an antenna up and if I do they will take it down and will come after me for that cost and the cost of repairing the building. How is this fair? I thought the FCC said anyone can put up a satellite dish.

While the FCC in 1966 did in fact pass regulations prohibiting the restrictions of consumer owned over-the-air reception devices (“OTARD” rules), as it pertains to condominiums that rule only applies to exclusive use common area. The OTARD rule does apply to dish antennas that are one meter or less in size. So, basically, if you live in a single family home or an attached PD (a townhome where you own the lot) your association can do little to restrict your use of a satellite dish even if the association maintains the roof and siding. However, if you live in a condominium (including a “townhome” style condominium) the prohibition against restrictions only applies to your exclusive use common area.
Said differently, a condominium can (and typically will) prohibit the installation of any such device on the common area itself and will typically also prohibit the penetration of any common area walls or window/door frames.

The reason for this is actually quite simple; you only own an undivided interest in the common area. Basically, putting the dish in or on the common area means you are putting the dish on property owned by others. For those of us old enough to remember the passage of this regulation, the FCC initially wanted this prohibition against regulations to apply universally – to include condominiums. There was much push back on all attached property where the association maintained the roof. The FCC’s position was that maintenance responsibility and aesthetics were not enough reason for homeowners not to have access to telecommunications airways. However, when it came to condominiums, property rights came into play. The net result is that while there are exceptions, condominiums will typically allow you to put a dish on your exclusive use common area, without penetrating the building. If you do not have an exclusive use deck, or you have one but it faces the wrong direction, it is likely that you will not be able to get dish television. You can read the actual FCC positions on this issue at http://www.fcc.gov/guides/installing-consumer-owned-antennas-and-satellite-dishes

Articles are for advertising and general information by The Helsing Group, Inc. They are not intended to provide legal advice, but rather reflect our opinions as Community Association managers and Consultants. Readers should not act on issues raised in our newsletters or websites without consulting legal counsel.

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