UPDATED: Can you put a dish or antenna on your apartment balcony?

Don’t let the condo board tell you otherwise. You have every right to put any dish or antenna smaller than one meter (39″) wide on your balcony or in any other reasonable area. It’s called the OTARD rule and while that’s a funny name that invites all sorts of inappropriate jokes, it’s a serious thing cooked up by the FCC to protect you from rental offices, condo boards, and homeowners association.

Right from the government’s web site

Here’s the basics, according to the FCC’s own web site:

If you have exclusive use of an area, like a patio or a roof you don’t share, you can put your dish or antenna there. It doesn’t give you the right to use a common area like an open patio or park, or to attach to light poles or other city structures.

If you don’t use any nails or other fasteners, then you don’t need permission.

As stated before the dish or antenna must be under one meter in size and installation must not cause any damage to the building.

This is an FCC rule. This means that it cannot be overriden by an HOA, condo board or rental office, no matter what they tell you. However it can be overriden by local laws. There are very few cities that have anti-antenna laws so for the most part that’s not a problem.

What if the condo board doesn’t let you

If you think that you’re being unfairly kept from putting your dish or antenna up, you can start by calling the FCC at 1-888-CALL FCC (1-888-225-5322). The SBCA, an organization of satellite broadcasters and dealers dedicated to training and informing, have produced a little video that tells you your rights. Sometimes just sharing it with the condo board will get to them to back down.

If that doesn’t work, you’ll need to submit an actual complaint to the FCC. The details are found on the bottom of the page here.  It’s pretty simple, actually. For a government agency it seems like they’re pretty flexible about the whole thing. All you have to do is send them an email stating your case as much as you possibly can.

Of course, this is still the federal government and they don’t promise to move quickly. So, filing a complaint should probably be your last resort because you don’t know how long it will take to get it resolved. Hopefully when you print out that rule from the FCC, it will be very clear to the condo board or HOA board. The law is on your side and they can’t stop you from putting up a dish or antenna. That is, as long as it meets the guidelines at the top of this article.

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If you’re looking to upgrade your satellite system, or looking to cut the cord and get all your television for free with an antenna, check out the excellent selection you’ll find at Solid Signal. If you need help choosing just the right thing, call us at 877-312-4547 for as much pre-sales support as you could possibly want.

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 6,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.