satellite dishes (OTARD)

The law prohibits HOA restrictions that interfere with the installation or use of a satellite dish by a resident on property that the resident owns or rents and that is within the resident's exclusive use or control (such as limited common area), including a balcony or patio.  For installations in such areas of exclusive use or control, the law prohibits most restrictions that:

  1.  unreasonably delay or prevent installation, maintenance or use;
  2.  unreasonably increase the cost of installation, maintenance or use; or
  3.  preclude reception of an acceptable quality signal.

The rule does not apply to regular common area, only to limited common area.  An HOA can prohibit dishes from being installed on common area.  For instance, if the common area in an association includes the roof or exterior wall of a building (as is usually the case in condominiums, but not in non-condos), the HOA may prohibit owners from installing satellite dishes on the roof or exterior wall of a building. 

Example 1.  In order to receive an acceptable signal, the owner of a condominium unit needs to put the dish on a mast that extends beyond the balcony boundaries.  This installation is outside the scope and protection of OTARD, and the condominium association may impose any restrictions it wishes (including an outright prohibition) because OTARD does not apply in this situation.

Example 2.  A condominium association adopts a rule that prohibits placement of a satellite dish on the roof or on an exterior wall of the building.  The rule is proper. 

Example 3.  A community association with attached townhomes is responsible for maintenance and repair of the townhome exteriors, including the roofs and walls.  The association adopts an amendment to the CC&Rs that prohibits placement of a satellite dish on the roof or on an exterior wall of a townhome.  The amendment is not lawful since the individual homeowner owns the roof and walls of the owner's townhome and the roof and walls are under the owner's exclusive use and control.  Responsibility for maintenance and repair is not a factor.

The law is referred to as the rule for Over-the-Air-Reception Devices, or OTARD

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Statutes and Cases:

(For reference: 57-8 is the Condo Act, 57-8a is the Community Association Act, 16-6a is the Nonprofit Act)

OTARD 47 CFR § 1.4000 (FCC Rule)
OTARD Summary and Q & A