Eady: Satellite dishes, by the rules


Q: I have a question about satellite dishes.

I live in a 55-plus condominium in west Bradenton, and the condo association bans satellite dishes. I thought that someone told me that the FCC had a ruling that a condo association could not ban a dish but could tell you where you could install it.

Do you have any info on this subject?

— R.M., Bradenton

A: I think the Federal Communication Commission rule that you are referring to is 47 C.F.R. Section 1.4000, which has been in effect since 1996.

The rule prohibits certain restrictions (both governmental and nongovernmental) that impair the installation, maintenance or use of antennas used to receive video programming. The rule applies to TV antennas, wireless cable antennas and to video antennas (including satellite dishes that are less than one meter in diameter).

The size limit on satellite dishes does not apply in Alaska, which goes to show that there you might not only be able to see Russia from your backyard, you can also have a satellite dish the size of the Ritz.

The installation and use of a satellite dish at a condominium can be tricky, because much of the building exteriors are common elements available for the use of all owners.

The FCC rule that protects freedom from restriction or certain antennas applies in the following circumstances:
• The rule applies to restrictions on property, including condominium and HOA restrictions, where the viewer has an ownership or leasehold interest and exclusive use or control.
• The rule applies to antenna users who live in a multi-dwelling unit building, such as a condominium or apartment complex, if the antenna user has an exclusive use area in which to install the antenna.
• In a condominium, an “exclusive-use area” is commonly delineated in the condominium documents as a “limited common element” and may include a balcony, terrace, deck or patio that only the owner can use. The rule does not apply to common elements or areas, such as the roof, hallways, walkways and exterior walls of a condo building. Restrictions that prohibit installations by owners on the common elements, including restrictions that prevent drilling through the exterior walls of a condominium, are not prohibited by the rule.
• An antenna installed on an area of “exclusive use” or limited common elements may not extend over or protrude onto a common area. The antenna must be fully contained on the balcony railing, patio wall or similar exclusive use area, unless the condo docs or association rules provide otherwise.
• A condo association is not obligated to provide a place for a resident to install an antenna if the resident does not have an “exclusive use area.” In other words, if a unit can only receive a satisfactory signal if the antenna is placed on the common building roof, the association is not required to allow the installation.
• For a homeowner’s association, a board of directors may require that an antenna be placed where they are not visible from the street if the placement does not prevent reception of an acceptable quality signal or impose unreasonable expense or delay. The FCC also has established examples of what constitutes an unreasonable expense or delay.

I would normally direct you to the FCC’s website for further information, but, as of press time, due to the federal government-wide shutdown, FCC online systems are unavailable. However, the FCC fact sheet on the placement of antennas is available online through the Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Association at: www.sbca.org/dish-satellite/fcc-fact-sheet.htm.


Oh, beehave!

Regular readers of this column know I have a true appreciation for the absurd when it comes to community association living. So, a few stories from the past week that caught my eye:
• Tampa attorney raises bees on condo property, sells honey to fund kids’ college.

Really? The attorney, Paul Maney, was quoted in The Tampa Tribune as having kept a bee hive on the balcony of his condominium. According to the article, all was copacetic “until a painting project on the building (and his neighbors) encouraged him to move the hive.”

Encouraged? Maybe encouragement by virtue of a legal summons? Is a bee hive better or worse than a satellite dish?

So Maney wrapped a blanket around the hive structure, including the bees, and carried it to the rooftop of his law office in downtown Tampa. Wow. Maybe he is trying to attract more clients with honey. . .

I am not a condo commando, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express.

The next tidbit comes from Boynton Beach.

A dispute continues between a 55-plus community and the developer of a proposed Holiday Inn Express Suites to be located at the entrance to the community.

The residents of the community have long fought the project and, according to The Palm Beach Post, the developer has made concessions to decrease the hotel from five stories to four and eliminated plans for a bar, restaurant and banquet rooms to decrease noise and “eliminate riffraff.”

What is truly ironic about the proposal slated to be voted on last Tuesday is a quote from a Boynton Beach commissioner: “Legally, the developer has a right to build that hotel. But, morally is it OK to put a hotel in the backyard of a residential area? No.”

But, is it OK to purchase residential property next to a property zoned for a hotel and continue to fight it, even when major concessions are made, on “moral” grounds? I bet a lot of us have stayed at Holiday Inns and did not even know we were “riffraff.”

The commission last Tuesday sent the developer back to the drawing board to redesign the hotel entrance to meet new traffic engineering requirements. The commissioner’s quote leads me to believe that the decision to further hamstring the project had been made before any testimony or evidence was presented at the hearing.

Maybe if the developer guaranteed the thread count of the sheets or the availability of turndown service (don’t forget the pillow mints) and a special discount for guests of the community next door, the project would have sailed through.

The BANANA republic is alive and well in Florida. You know, “Build absolutely nothing anywhere near anybody.”

Tamela Eady is a Florida Bar board-certified real estate attorney with 25 years’ experience. She is an attorney with the the Law Offices of Kevin T. Wells PA in Sarasota, concentrating her practice on community association and real estate. The subjects discussed in her columns are not intended as specific legal advice to anyone and are subject to principles that may change. Questions may be modified for clarity or for brevity. Email questions for possible inclusion in a future column to teady@kevinwellspa.com.


Tamela Eady

Tamela Eady is a Florida Bar board-certified real estate attorney with more than 25 years experience, concentrating her practice on community association and real estate legal matters. The subjects discussed in her columns are not intended as specific legal advice to anyone and are subject to principles that may change from time to time. Questions may be modified for clarity or for brevity. Email questions for possible inclusion in a future column to tke@eadylaw.com.
Last modified: October 19, 2013
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