Satellite Dishes and HOAs

Satellite dishes are gaining in popularity among consumers. Many HOA CC&Rs have blanket prohibitions on dishes, which the federal Over-the-Air-Reception-Devices Act "OTARD" override. The following is a bullet point overview of OTARD's provisions. Purpose

- prohibit restrictions that unreasonably prevent, delay, or increase cost of antenna installation or otherwise interfere w/ reception of over the air TV signals


- applies to state and local governments and HOA's

- applies only to dishes less than 1 meter in diameter

Types of property affected

- single family homes, condominiums, cooperatives, townhomes, and manufactured homes. In the case of condominiums, cooperatives, and rental property, the rules apply to an area where the viewer has exclusive use, like a terrace, balcony or patio

OTARD does not apply to:

- common areas that are owned by a landlord, a community association or jointly by condominium owners. These common areas may include the roof or exterior walls of a multiple dwelling unit

The Challenge to HOAs

- the breadth of §207 makes it very difficult for HOAs to prohibit the installation of satellite dishes

These are things the HOA may not do under §207:

- have a blanket ban on all dishes

- impose rules that unreasonably burden an owner's ability to receive signal

- impose rules that unreasonably delay or prevent installation, i.e. costly permits

These are things the HOA can do:

-prohibit large dishes

- regulate where dishes are placed

- ensure the installation of the dish complies with safety regulations

- clearly-defined, legitimate safety restrictions are permitted even if they impair installation, maintenance or use provided they are necessary to protect public safety and are no more burdensome than necessary to ensure safety

- prohibit installation if building is a “historic site.” To qualify for this exemption, the property may be any prehistoric or historic district, site, building, structure or object included in, or eligible for inclusion on, the National Register of Historic Places. In addition, restrictions necessary for historic preservation must be no more burdensome than necessary to accomplish the historic preservation goal. They must also be imposed and enforced in a non-discriminatory manner, as compared to other modern structures that are comparable in size and weight and to which local regulation would normally apply

- require owners to pay for maintenance and damage associated with their dish

What should you do if there is a dispute:

Restrictions that impair installation, maintenance or use of the antennas covered by the rule are preempted (unenforceable) unless they are no more burdensome than necessary for the articulated legitimate safety purpose or for preservation of a designated or eligible historic site or district. If a person believes a restriction is preempted, but the community association disagrees, either the person or the restricting entity may file a Petition for Declaratory Ruling with the FCC or a court of competent jurisdiction

For more information: