Can Homeowners Associations ban antennas? The OTARD law says no
HOAs often prohibit homeowners from installing antennas. However, the OTARD law ensures you have the right to install and use certain types of antennas.
Homeowners associations (HOAs) can be real killjoys, can’t they? “You can’t do this, you can only do this if we say so,”—you know the drill. A common HOA rule you may come across is one banning the installation of antennas on your house or condo. Well, we have good news for those who may have had their local TV access disrupted by such rules: There is an actual rule of law (the OTARD law) that prohibits HOAs from disallowing the installation and use of antennas!
Wait, why would I want an antenna anyway?
Thanks to cable, and later internet streaming, we associate antennas with trying to corral low-definition, fuzzy analog signals. However, antennas today are high-tech digital devices that capture digital signals. And here’s the kicker: Most channels are broadcast in HD, and most new antennas support those higher resolutions. So with the right antenna, you can keep watching all those HD broadcast stations you love for free alongside any streaming solutions you may choose. We’re sorry we ever doubted you, antennas.
Okay, I’m in. Tell me about this OTARD law!
We’d love to. OTARD stands for Over-the-Air Reception Devices—or as we know them, antennas. The OTARD rule of law took effect in 1996 and has been modified a number of times since then to address different scenarios and technological advances. It prohibits “restrictions that impair the installation, maintenance or use of antennas used to receive video programming and certain antennas used to receive or transmit fixed wireless signals…unreasonably increase the cost of installation, maintenance or use; or preclude reception of an acceptable quality signal.”
Huh? Basically, that’s fancy-schmancy legalese which basically says no one has the right to tell you not to set up and use your TV antenna or satellite dish and that nobody can try to sneakily make it hard for you to do so either. Presumably, HOAs began to circumvent the law by saying, “Okay, you can install an antenna, but only in this incredibly inconvenient area that makes the antenna expensive to install and unable to receive signals well.”
Great! I have a 15-foot satellite dish from 1982 that I’ve been dying to hang off my condo balcony.
Okay, maybe we should have mentioned that there are definitely restrictions to the type of antennas protected by this law. When it comes to satellite dishes, they must be no more than 39.37" in every state except Alaska (because, c’mon, it’s Alaska). TV antennas, wireless cable, and certain fixed wireless antennas are also protected. Speaking of condos, your condo board may claim that this law doesn’t apply to condominiums. The law clearly states that you have the right to install permitted antennas in areas of exclusive use, such as a balcony or patio, whether you are a renter or an owner.
Are there any exceptions to the rule?
As we learned as kids, there are always exceptions. Thankfully, the exceptions here are all completely reasonable. These include “legitimate safety restrictions or restrictions designed to preserve designated or eligible historic or prehistoric properties.” In all cases, the restriction must be “no more burdensome than necessary to accomplish the safety or preservation purpose.” Also, if your antenna is on exclusive-use property such as a balcony or patio, it must be wholly contained on that property. So even if your antenna is permitted, it can’t hang off of or protrude past the perimeter of the area in question.
Cut the cord with HD antennas, streaming TV and Ting Internet
Now that you know your HOA can’t prevent you from installing an antenna thanks to the OTARD law, you can look at the cord-cutter pro move of getting your local broadcast channels in HD for free and using streaming to obtain on-demand and premium content. For that part of the puzzle, you can rely on Ting Internet for an amazing viewing experience. Our lightning-fast and ultrareliable fiber connection ensures buffer-free viewing without irritating outages. See if Ting Internet is available where you live!