Condominium associations can reasonably restrict, and in appropriate cases even prohibit, owners and tenants from installing dishes on common area roofs. That is not true for single family homes and not necessarily true for townhouses.
Townhouses. If the CC&Rs define townhouse roofs as exclusive use common area, owners and tenants may install satellite dishes on their roofs. (FCC 2003 Ruling.) If an owner needs to install an antenna on a mast that is more than 12 feet taller than the roof of the home, the association may require a permit to ensure safety, but may not prohibit the installation. If the CC&Rs define townhouse roofs as ordinary common area, the association may impose reasonable restrictions on the installation, which include any restrictions necessary for safety and any other reasonable restrictions as defined by law.
Federal Preemption. Parts of Civil Code § 4725 have been preempted by the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (47 USC § § 151-615b) and Over-the-Air Reception Devices Rule (OTARD rule) (47 CFR § 1.4000), which provides that while owners have a federally protected right install satellite dishes on their separate interest or exclusive use common areas (i.e. balconies, patios), they do not have a federally protected right to install them on common area roofs.
Roof and Common Area Damage. Due to possible damage to roofs, exterior walls and other common area surfaces and potential liability from injuries, many associations do not allow the installation of antennas on common area roofs or exterior surfaces which might allow leaks or even mold to develop. The Civil Code specifically allows associations to require owners to provide for the maintenance and repair of the roof or other common area components, and to indemnify against any loss or damage caused by the installation. Some clients allow installation in designated roof areas that have been prepped for antennas so as to avoid roof damage and limit the impact on appearance. Restrictions on when and how common area installations occur are appropriate and allowed by State law.
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