These questions and answers have been provided by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Cable Services Bureau. For more information about these regulations, specific instructions about how to file a petition in the case of a dispute, or to contact the FCC, please visit the FCC website
Q: What types of antennas are covered by the rule?
A: The rule applies to the following types of video antennas:
(1) A "dish" antenna that is one meter (39.37") or less in diameter (or any size dish if located in Alaska) and is designed to receive direct broadcast satellite service, including direct-to-home satellite service, or to receive or transmit fixed wireless signals via satellite.
(2) An antenna that is one meter or less in diameter or diagonal measurement and is designed to receive video programming services via MMDS (wireless cable) or to receive or transmit fixed wireless signals other than via satellite.
(3) An antenna that is designed to receive local television broadcast signals. Masts higher than 12 feet above the roofline may be subject to local permitting requirements.
In addition, antennas covered by the rule may be mounted on "masts" to reach the height needed to receive or transmit an acceptable quality signal (e.g. maintain line-of-sight contact with the transmitter or view the satellite). Masts higher than 12 feet above the roofline may be subject to local permitting requirements for safety purposes. Further, masts that extend beyond an exclusive use area may not be covered by this rule.
Q: What types of restrictions are prohibited?
A: The rule prohibits restrictions that impair a person's ability to install, maintain, or use an antenna covered by the rule. The rule applies to state or local laws or regulations, including zoning, land-use or building regulations, private covenants, homeowners' association rules, condominium or cooperative association restrictions, lease restrictions, or similar restrictions on property within the exclusive use or control of the antenna user where the user has an ownership or leasehold interest in the property. A restriction impairs if it: (1) unreasonably delays or prevents use of; (2) unreasonably increases the cost of; or (3) precludes a person from receiving or transmitting an acceptable quality signal from an antenna covered under the rule. The rule does not prohibit legitimate safety restrictions or restrictions designed to preserve designated or eligible historic or prehistoric properties, provided the restriction is no more burdensome than necessary to accomplish the safety or preservation purpose.
Q: If I live in a condominium or an apartment building, does this rule apply to me?
A: The rule applies to antenna users who live in a multiple dwelling unit building, such as a condominium or apartment building, if the antenna user has an exclusive use area in which to install the antenna. "Exclusive use" means an area of the property that only you, and persons you permit, may enter and use to the exclusion of other residents. For example, your condominium or apartment may include a balcony, terrace, deck, or patio that only you can use, and the rule applies to these areas. The rule does not apply to common areas, such as the roof, the hallways, the walkways, or the exterior walls of a condominium or apartment building. Restrictions on antennas installed in these common areas are not covered by the Commission's rule. For example, the rule would not apply to prohibit restrictions that prevent drilling through the exterior wall of a condominium or rental unit.
Q: If I live in a condominium, cooperative, or other type of residence where certain areas have been designated as "common," do these rules apply to me?
A: The rules apply to residents of these types of buildings, but the rules do not permit you to install an antenna on a common area, such as a walkway, hallway, community garden, exterior wall, or the roof. However, you may install the antenna wholly within a balcony, deck, patio, or other area where you have exclusive use.
Drilling through an exterior wall, (e.g. to run the cable from the patio into the unit), is generally not within the protection of the rule because the exterior wall is generally a common element. You may wish to check with your retailer or installer for advice on how to install the antenna without drilling a hole. Alternatively, your landlord or association may grant permission for you to drill such a hole. The Commission's rules generally do not cover installations if you drill through a common element.
Q: I live in a townhome community. Am I covered by the FCC rule?
A: Yes. If you own the whole townhouse, including the walls and the roof and the land under the building, then the rule applies just as it does for a single family home, and you may be able to put the antenna on the roof, the exterior wall, the backyard, or any other place that is part of what you own. If the townhouse is a condominium, then the rule applies as it does for any other type of condominium, which means it applies only where you have an exclusive use area. If it is a condominium townhouse, you probably cannot use the roof, the chimney, or the exterior walls unless the condominium association gives you permission. You may want to check your ownership documents to determine what areas are owned by you or are reserved for your exclusive use.
Q: I live in a condominium with a balcony, but I cannot receive a signal from the satellite because my balcony faces north. Can I use the roof?
A: No. The roof of a condominium is generally a common area, not an area reserved for an individual's exclusive use. If the roof is a common area, you may not use it unless the condominium association gives you permission. The condominium is not obligated to provide a place for you to install an antenna if you do not have an exclusive use area.
Q: I'm a board member of a homeowners' association, and we want to revise our restrictions so that they will comply with the FCC rule. Does the FCC have guidelines they can send me?
A: The FCC does not have sample guidelines because every community is different. If you go to their Web site they can send you the rule and the relevant orders, which will give you general guidance. Some communities have written restrictions that provide a prioritized list of placement preferences so that residents can see where the association wants them to install the antenna. The residents should comply with the placement preferences provided the preferred placement does not impose unreasonable delay or expense or preclude reception of an acceptable quality signal.
Q: What restrictions are permitted if the antenna must be on a very tall mast to get a signal?
A: If you have an exclusive use area that is covered by the rule and need to put your antenna on a mast, the local government, community association, or landlord may require you to apply for a permit for safety reasons if the mast extends more than 12 feet above the roofline. If you meet the safety requirements, the permit should be granted. Note that the Commission's rule only applies to antennas and masts installed wholly within the antenna user's exclusive use area. Masts that extend beyond the exclusive use area are outside the scope of the rule. For installations on single family homes, the "exclusive use area" generally would be anywhere on the home or lot and the mast height provision is usually most relevant in these situations. For example, if a homeowner needs to install an antenna on a mast that is more than 12 feet taller than the roof of the home, the homeowners' association or local zoning authority may require a permit to ensure the safety of such an installation, but may not prohibit the installation unless there is no way to install it safely. On the other hand, if the owner of a condominium in a building with multiple dwelling units needs to put the antenna on a mast that extends beyond the balcony boundaries, such installation would generally be outside the scope and protection of the rule, and the condominium association may impose any restrictions it wishes (including an outright prohibition) because the Commission rule does not apply in this situation.
Flying the Flag
Q: What is CAI's position on flying the American flag?
A: CAI strongly believes that all Americans should have the opportunity to demonstrate their patriotism and support our country. CAI has initiated Operation Old Glory! to promote the flying of American flags in community associations. For community associations that have rules prohibiting the flying of flags, CAI is asking that you consider your position with respect to your members' wishes.
Q: What types of flags should be allowed to be displayed?
A: At a minimum, residents should be allowed to display one or more portable, removable flags of the United States. They should be of reasonable size and shape in windows, affixed on or near the front door of the unit, on the limited common areas, or in certain areas as determined by the Board in the immediate vicinity of his or her unit.
Q: What are CAI's public policies?
A: To find out the official CAI position on many issues, such as reserve requirements, limited priority lien, a homeowner bill of rights, manager certification, and many more, go to our public policies page.