Satellite Dishes (Generally)

State and Federal statutes limit the degree to which an association’s governing documents (i.e., its CC&Rs or architectural standards) may restrict or prohibit the installation of satellite dishes. The limitations placed upon an association in this respect are impacted by the type of common interest development—namely, whether the association’s development is comprised of single family homes or condominium units. (See also “Satellite Dishes on Common Area Roofs.”)

Civil Code Section 4725
Civil Code Section 4725 renders void and unenforceable any provision contained in an association’s governing documents that “effectively prohibits or restricts the installation or use of a video or television antenna, including a satellite dish, or that effectively prohibits or restricts the attachment of that antenna to a structure within the development where the antenna is not visible from any street or common area, except as otherwise prohibited or restricted by law…” (Civ. Code § 4725(a).) However, this limitation applies only to provisions which prohibit/restrict the installation of satellite dishes that have a “diameter or diagonal measurement of 36 inches or less.” (Civ. Code § 4725(a).)

Reasonable Restrictions Permitted
The rights afforded to an association’s members under Section 4725 are further subject to “reasonable restrictions” imposed by an association on the installation, maintenance or use of satellite dishes that have a diameter or diagonal measurement of 36 inches or less. (Civ. Code § 4725(b).) Reasonable restrictions include restrictions “that do not significantly increase the cost of the [satellite dish]…or significantly decrease its efficiency or performance,” and include restrictions that (a) require a member to obtain association approval for the satellite dish installation, (b) require the member to assume the maintenance obligations for any roofs or building components impacted by the satellite dish’s installation, maintenance or use, and (c) require the installers of a satellite dish to indemnify or reimburse the association or its members for loss or damage caused by the satellite dish’s installation, maintenance or use. (Civ. Code § 4725(b).)

Association Approval Requirement
Where an association requires a homeowner to obtain association approval for the installation or use of a satellite dish, that approval must be processed in the same manner as an application for approval of architectural modifications to the member’s property. (Civ. Code § 4725(c); See also “Architectural Application & Approval Process.”)

Federal Preemption: Telecommunications Act and OTARD Rule
Parts of Section 4725 have been preempted by the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (“TA”) (47 USC § §151-615b) and Over-the-Air Reception Devices Rule (“OTARD Rule”) (47 CFR §1.4000). The TA and OTARD Rule generally provide an association’s members and their tenants with federally protected rights to install satellite dishes on their separate interests (their lots or units) and exclusive use common areas (i.e., balconies, patios, etc.) notwithstanding the visibility restrictions contained in Section 4725. However, members and tenants do not have a federally protected right to install satellite dishes on common area components that are owned and maintained by the association (i.e., roofs, building exteriors, etc.). (See “Satellite Dishes on Common Area Roofs.”)

Enforcement of Section 4725
In an action to enforce compliance with Civil Code Section 4725, the prevailing party is entitled to an award of its attorney’s fees. (Civ. Code § 4725(d).)


Related Topics

Related Statutes

Related Links

FCC Guide to the OTARD Rule

Preemption of Restrictions on Placement of Direct Broadcast Satellite, Broadband Radio Service, and Television Broadcast Antennas.