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Community has rules about satellite dishes

Q: The homeowners association requires a fee of $150 to authorize the setup of a satellite dish in case that I move and they would end up removing it and have to match the paint on the wall. That was not a required fee when I moved here. I believe that is a lot of money. The main electrical breaker is outside, I was informed the HOA is not responsible for that.

A: I see you live in a condominium association. There are different regulations established by the Federal Communications Commission for those homeowners who live in a single-family home. In reviewing the guidelines that have been set by the FCC, the requirement your association to charge a fee of $150 could possibly be considered an “unreasonable expense.” The guidelines state that it may be unreasonable for a community association to require a viewer to incur additional costs associated with the installation of a satellite dish. Things to consider in determining the reasonableness of any costs imposed include: 1. the cost of the equipment and services, 2. whether there are similar requirements for comparable objects, such as air-conditioning units.

In a multiple-dwelling-unit building, such as a condominium, the residents do not have the right to install an antenna on the common areas such as walkways, hallways, exterior walls or roofs. The residents may install an antenna within a balcony, deck or patio where the resident has an “exclusive use.” FCC guidelines define exclusive use to mean an area of the property that only the resident and persons the resident permits to enter and to use to the exclusion of others. Drilling through an exterior wall to run cable from the patio into the unit is generally not with the protection of the rule because the exterior wall is generally a common element of the association.

In your case, the association established this fee in case the association would have to remove the satellite dish and repaint the wall. This is a legitimate concern, as the cost to remove and to repaint the wall would be an additional association expense when it should be the expense of the satellite dish homeowner.

Instead of imposing a $150 fee, the association could consider changing their regulation and require a refundable security deposit that would be returned to the homeowner upon the homeowner removing the dish and painting the exterior wall.

To ensure your association is abiding by the FCC regulations, the board or its management company can contact the FCC at 1-888-225-5322.

Q: What is the disposition of money left over in the HOA operating account at the end of the year?

A: Nevada Revised Statute 116.3114 pertains to surplus funds. The section states that any surplus funds of an association remaining after the payment or provision for common expenses and any prepayment of reserves must be paid to the homeowner or credited to them to reduce their future assessments for common expenses.

In my opinion, this is a poor definition of what constitutes surplus funds. First, the law does not take into consideration the delinquency accounts or even the potential write-offs of delinquent accounts or even the number of bankruptcies or foreclosures that impact the actual cash balance.

Second, the law does not take into consideration a contingency account for unexpected expenses that could occur in the coming year. Many certified public accountants recommend that nonprofit organizations, such as homeowner associations, have three to six months of regular assessments placed into a contingency account.

Many associations would have found contingency funds extremely beneficial during the Great Recession. Those funds could have been used for operating expenses that were not being covered by the increase in homeowner delinquencies and foreclosures.

In any event, as the law stands today, association boards should seek counsel with their CPAs in determining the appropriate amount of association funds that should be refunded to the homeowners.

Barbara Holland is a certified property manager, broker and supervisory certified association manager. Questions may be sent to holland744o@gmail.com.

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