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Satellite Dishes on Roofs
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
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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.

SEPARATE INTEREST OWNED BY ANOTHER

QUESTION: Civil Code §4725(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 4725 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 §4125, §4185.) The portions of the project owned by the association are referred to as “common area." and are not separate interests at all. (Civ.Code §4095.) Therefore, Civil Code §4725(b)(2) would not give residents unrestricted right to install a satellite dish on a common area roof; the association may reasonably restrict the installation as discussed below.

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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