Condo Corner: Pennsylvania (March 2007)

March 2007 In The Zone

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Homeowners are offered with many different providers of cable television, including satellite television. However, those homeowners who wish to receive cable television through satellite providers, such as DIRECTV or The Dish, may be restricted from doing so since many condominiums impose restrictions regarding the placement of satellite dishes within the community.

Condominium Associations are limited to the type of restrictions they can impose based on the Federal Communications Commissions’ Over-the-Air Reception Devises Rule (the “FCC Rule”). The FCC Rule prohibits any restriction, including but not limited to zoning and land use regulations, a private covenant, or a condominium or planned community association restriction, on property within the exclusive use or control of the antenna user where the user has a direct or indirect ownership or leasehold interest in the property that impairs the installation, maintenance or use of an antenna that is used to receive direct broadcast satellite service, including direct-to-home satellite service, or to receive or transmit fixed wireless signals via satellite, and that is one meter or less in diameter. 47 C.F.R. § 1.4000. The FCC Rule states that a regulation impairs the installation, maintenance, or use of an antenna if it (i) unreasonably delays or prevents installation, maintenance, or use; (ii) unreasonably increases the cost of installation, maintenance, or use; or (iii) precludes reception or transmission of an acceptable quality signal.

The FCC Rule has raised many questions as to the type of regulations a condominium association is permitted to implement with respect to the placement of satellite dishes. The FCC Rule only applies to property within the exclusive control of the satellite user. It does not apply to common areas within a condominium. Therefore, a condominium association can prohibit the placement of a satellite dish on the common elements, including, but not limited to the roof and/or exterior wall of a multi-family dwelling. On the other hand, a condominium association cannot prohibit the placement of a satellite dish on a balcony or patio that is exclusively used by the homeowner. However, they can prohibit the satellite dish from protruding from the balcony or patio.

For more information regarding restrictions on satellite dishes in condominiums and planned communities, please contact Carrie B. Nase, Esquire at 215.918.3615.