Satellite Dishes in Condos – What Are Your Rights?

Here’s the question:

“I have a question about satellite dish placement on my condo patio. I have an exclusive use first floor fenced patio in the back of my condo building with a small 2ft x 4ft roof protruding over my door that leads to the patio. There is nothing above my area but air. The patio cannot be seen from the street. The FCC rule says that the HOA cannot restrict placement in a limited common area such as my patio and roof, that is for my exclusive use and control as long as there are no safety or historical reasons. The HOA has fined me because I refuse to move the dish from my small roof to an anchored pole on the ground. I believe the signal will be impaired and will incur unreasonable cost. I maintain that the small roof, which has no relation to the building’s roof, is located in my exclusive use area and belongs to me, even though it is attached to a common wall. The FCC also says that the burden of proof is on the HOA. What can I do? Any help would be appreciated.”

I see a few things that I feel deserve comment. First of all, the roof area mentioned may or may not be part of the exclusive or limited use area so the statement that the FCC “rule says that the HOA cannot restrict placement in a limited common area such as my patio and roof,” may be a faulty assumption. Condos are generally defined as airspace and sometimes the exclusive use/limited common areas are also defined as airspace. There is controversy for example over whether a condo owner can attach a satellite dish to a balcony rail that bounds an exclusive use patio if a free standing unit on the patio could get a signal. The fact that the yard/patio area cannot be seen from the street does not add anything that I can see meaning I do not see it as having significance, since the definition of the exclusive use area is the key factor here.

Associations tend to discourage or disallow fixing dishes to roofs because of the complications related to maintenance, warranties, concerns for protections for the roof, etc. so it is possible the Board could justify the demand to remove the dish from the roof. And, I do not necessarily agree with the statement that it is incumbent on the HOA to prove anything before taking the disciplinary action. You could consult with a provider to see if there is any proof available that supports a claim you cannot get a signal from a pole mounted dish.

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