Editor's note: This is the third column in a specials series that addresses, with the help of the Federal Communications Commission, how homeowners' associations should handle satellite dishes.
In the Nov. 12 column we left off answering common questions about satellite dishes. Here is more information that may be helpful to homeowners' associations in dealing with this issue.
Q: Are there any restrictions to the over-the-air-reception devices rules?
A: Restrictions necessary to prevent damage to leased property are permissible as long as the restrictions are reasonable. For example, a lease restriction that forbids tenants from drilling holes through exterior walls or through the roof is likely to be permissible.
An association, landlord or local government may impose certain restrictions when safety is a concern or where a historic site is involved. An example of a safety restriction would be installing an antenna on a fire escape. Safety restrictions must be narrowly written so that they are no more burdensome than necessary to address a legitimate safety purpose.
Q: What antennas or dishes are covered by these rules?
A: The following antennas or dishes are covered by these rules:
• A "dish" antenna 1 meter (39.37 inches) or less in diameter (or any size dish if located in Alaska), designed to receive direct broadcast satellite service, including direct-to-home satellite service or to receive or transmit fixed wireless signals via satellite.
• An antenna that is 1 meter or less in diameter and is designed to receive video programming services via broadband radio service (wireless cable), or to receive or transmit fixed wireless signals other than via satellite.
• An antenna that is designed to receive local television broadcast signals.
• Antennas designed to receive and/or transmit data services including Internet access.
In addition, antennas covered by the rule may be mounted on "masts" to reach the height needed to receive or transmit an acceptable quality signal (e.g., maintain line-of-sight contact with the transmitter or view the satellite).
Masts higher than 12 feet above the roofline may be subject to local permitting requirements for safety purposes. Further, masts that extend beyond an exclusive use area may not be covered by this rule.
Also, antennas used for AM/FM radio, amateur Ham radio, CB radio, digital audio radio services or antennas used as part of a hub to relay signals among multiple locations are not covered by these rules. The rule does not apply to television antennas used to receive distant signal.
Q: Can I have my own antenna if there is a common antenna being used at my complex?
A: If a common antenna is available for use by residents, then the association or landlord may reject or not permit the installation of an individually owned antenna or satellite dish, provided the programming and costs are the same.
Q: What is an unreasonable expense?
A: Any requirement to pay a fee to the local authority for a permit to be allowed to install an antenna would be unreasonable because such permits are generally prohibited. It may also be unreasonable for a local government, community association or landlord to require a viewer to incur additional costs associated with installation.
Things to consider in determining the reasonableness of any costs imposed include: the cost of the equipment and services, and whether there are similar requirements for comparable objects, such as air-conditioning units or trash receptacles.
For example, restrictions cannot require that expensive landscaping screen relatively unobtrusive DBS antennas. A requirement to paint an antenna so that it blends into the background against which it is mounted would likely be acceptable, provided it will not interfere with reception or impose unreasonable costs.
However, a landlord or HOA cannot assess a fee to install a dish or antenna. Additionally, requests to purchase insurance could be considered an unreasonable expense (anything extra that would add additional costs to the dish).
Barbara Holland, certified property manager, is president and owner of H&L Realty and Management Co. To ask her a question, email email@example.com.