Don’t let the HOA bully you into taking down your dish or antenna

See if this sounds familiar. You get a notice from your HOA. It’s polite, but it says that your over-the-air antenna doesn’t meet their “appearance standards.” They tell you that you have to take it down. You go before the board and they say, hey, it’s in the covenants. You approved them before you moved in. Is that the end of it?

Don’t let them push you around. Your homeowners’ association, condo board or apartment complex may think they’re above the law but they’re not. If you want to put up an antenna or satellite dish, the law’s on your side.

Here’s the real story

I’ve written about this before: there is a rule that the FCC made called the “Over the Air Reception Devices (OTARD)” rule that carries the force of law when it comes to you putting up an antenna on your property. The condo board can’t force you to take it down, if you meet these requirements:

  1. The antenna or dish can’t be more than 39″ in any measurement. All satellite dishes for the continental US meet this requirement. Many antennas do as well.
  2. The antenna or dish has to be mounted in a private area. This means an area you can’t get to from outside like a patio or inner courtyard. A roof is ok if you don’t share it with anyone else.
  3. You can’t drive nails or drill holes in anything you don’t own. If you’re talking about a standalone home that you own, you’re set. For a townhome with a shared roof, you need the agreement of anyone who has decision making power (usually the other owner, or sometimes the condo board.) If this is an apartment, you need their permission.
  4. There have to be no local laws prohibiting dishes or antennas. This comes up sometimes in areas with airports nearby.

The simple fact

If you can live by those rules there isn’t a darn thing the HOA can do about it, you have the right to put up an antenna or dish. For example, if you can’t drill, put up a tripod on your patio or a non-penetrating roof mount and use flat RG6 cable to fish through a window or door even when it’s closed.

If the condo board or apartment complex complains, go to this web site for information about filing a complaint with the FCC. Generally just pointing this out to your landlord or homeowner’s association will do the trick, but if you need to file a complaint, it’s all there.

If they don’t back down

You can choose to file a complaint with the FCC at the link above. Don’t expect it to get resolved quickly, but you will win. It’s much easier to just try to get them to understand the OTARD rule and apply it. You may need to get a local lawyer to help you.

Before you go that direction though, do make sure that you read those bullets above and that the antenna or dish you have meets those requirements. If you have one of those big old yagi-style antennas, it may not. This isn’t the end of the road, though. You can always upgrade to a more modern antenna. You may not need one as big as you used to. The folks at Solid Signal can help! Call us at 888-233-7563 during East Coast business hours and we’ll be happy to help you find the antenna you need!

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.