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Satellite Dishes on Roofs
Condominium associations can 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.

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.


QUESTION: Civil Code 1376(b)(2) says in part: "...that has a diameter or diagonal measurements of 36 inches or less on a separate interest owned by another." Questions and confusion keep arising on the interpretation of the phrase in bold lettering. We have some condominiums whose balconies cannot receive a satellite signal. The owners of these units want to place dishes on the common area roof. They claim the wording of 1376 allows them to do this as the roof is "a separate interest owned by another." Are they correct?

ANSWER: No, they are not correct. The term “separate interest owned by another” refers to the portion of the project owned exclusively by another member of the association which, in the case of condominium projects, is air space. (Civ. Code 1351(l)(2)&(f).) The portions of the project owned by the association are referred to as “common area." (Civ. Code 1351(b).) Therefore, Civil Code §1376(b)(2) would not give residents the right to install a satellite dish on a common area roof.

Federal Preemption. Moreover, parts of Civil Code §1376 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 right install satellite dishes on their separate interest or exclusive use common areas (i.e. balconies, patios), they do not have a right to install them on common area roofs.

Roof Damage. Finally, due to possible damage to roofs and potential liability from injuries, most associations do not allow the installation of antennas on common area roofs. A small percentage of our clients allow installation in designated roof areas that have been prepped for antennas so as to avoid roof damage. Even so, some impose strict restrictions on when and how installations occur.

Adams Kessler PLC
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