HOA, OTARD and Outdoor Antenna Installation Rules

Since this comes up in different threads I thought the information should be easier to find…

Antennas – Over-The- Air-Reception-Devices (OTARD) Rule – The Telecommunications Act (the “Act”) of 1996 was intended to promote the advancement of technology and competition among many new service providers, thereby allowing viewers the greatest possible access to the greatest variety of available programming at an affordable cost. In late 1996, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted the “Over-The-Air-Reception-Devices (OTARD) Rule.” This rule addressed viewers’ ability to receive video programming signals from: 1) television broadcast stations (“TVBS”), 2) direct broadcast satellites (“DBS”), and 3) multi-channel multipoint distribution (wireless cable) providers (“MMDS”). While allowing for some very limited controls and restrictions, notably for safety and historic preservation, the rule preempts all recorded covenants and restrictions that impair the installation, maintenance and use of antennas to receive video programming. The rule applies to all satellite dish antennas less than one meter (39.37”) in diameter, to all broadcast TV antennas, and to antennas (one meter or less in diameter or diagonal measurement) for reception of wireless cable signals. The OTARD rule supercedes all restrictive covenants that:

  • preclude, degrade, or interfere with the reception of an acceptable quality signal;
  • unreasonably increase the cost of installation, maintenance or use of the antenna, and
  • unreasonably delays or prevents the installation of the antenna.

The OTARD rule was amended in January 1999 to apply to rental properties and homeowner and condominium associations where a tenant or resident has exclusive use of limited common elements such as a balcony or patio. It applies to all types of multiunit and manufactured (mobile) homes as well as to single family homes. Residents may install an antenna on a limited common element within their exclusive use as well as on property they own outright (i.e., a yard), but may be prohibited from installing an antenna on the common element roof of a multiunit building. A central antenna system installed on common elements by the association may allow restriction of the installation of individual video antennas, provided that:

  • the viewer receives the particular video programming service that he/she/they desire and could receive with an individual antenna (i.e., all DBS, TVBS and/or MMDS providers, not just any provider of the association’s choice);
  • the video reception from the central system (in the residence) is as good as or better than the quality received from an individual antenna;
  • the costs associated with use of the central system are no greater than the costs of installation, maintenance and use of the individual’s antenna; and
  • the association’s requirement to use the central system does not “unreasonably delay the viewer’s ability to receive video programming.”

With the installation of an acceptable central antenna system, an association can require the removal of individual antennas previously installed on limited common elements if the cost of removal and the value of the antenna are reimbursed to the individual


Associations will not have to amend their covenants to comply with the FCC regulations because compliance is already mandatory. However, restrictions that do not impair a viewer’s ability to receive video signals remain enforceable. Community associations can still require a resident to apply for approval of the antenna installation as long as no unreasonable delay or cost is involved. Associations can still require compliance with the rules regarding method of installation, and may require screening, unobtrusive placement, painting, camouflage and other reasonable steps to reduce the visual impact on the community.

Over-the-Air Reception Devices Rule - FAQ


What happens if I live in Canada? SOL?

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Since the corporations control the US government, it’s extremely rare when there’s law’s or act’s the actually benefit individuals. There’s a good chance you’ve always been allowed to erect TV antennas however you want.

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That’s nice and dandy, the association allows you to install an antenna on your common-area balcony.

“How do I run it inside?” "That’s your issue to solve, but you’re not allowed to drill a hole in the balcony door/frame nor through the bricks/mortar to get the feed back inside. " <-- my direct conversation with my old board

Those co-ax over power adapters are not rated for outdoor use, so they won’t allow you to install those on the balcony.

A flat coax cable may be the only option, and it may or may not work, and those are usually sold in small runs, so you’d be losing db’s by adding two couplers. Is it outdoor rated? Might not be allowed to install that either. Or they’ll find some other reason.

So while yes, the condo’s know that by law they have to allow you to install an OTA antenna; there’s no law that states that they have to let you run the coax inside to let it work.

<-- used to be on a condo board. Those people [on that particular board, though from what I’ve heard it’s a common problem] will find any reason not to let you do something they don’t “want” you to do, and there’s enough wiggle room in the bylaws that they’ll usually win.

This is property you own? One point was

The OTARD rule supercedes all restrictive covenants that:

unreasonably delays or prevents the installation of the antenna.

That would prevent. They could, I suppose, make you hire someone who knows brick work. Or modify your won door, by a professional.

That is correct. Years ago, after this had just passed, my association tried to stop me from putting a DTV dish on my roof. I told them to keep trying and they came up with all the jackass restrictions. I called the FCC and an FCC rep actually CALLED the HOA and told them to stop harassing or the Feds would sue them!! I was stunned!!! But very happy. You as the tenant/owner also get to decide what is unreasonable. It’s your call. If they keep bothering you, don’t do anything, just complain to the FCC. They LOVE to go after HOAs.

Wouldn’t that be flag ploe? :yum:

@Max “So while yes, the condo’s know that by law they have to allow you to install an OTA antenna; there’s no law that states that they have to let you run the coax inside to let it work.” TRUE!

The FCC OTARD rules states:

“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 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 restrictions that prevent drilling through the exterior wall of a condominium or rental unit and thus restrictions may prohibit installation that requires such drilling.”

Interesting conversation here: Want an outdoor antenna but HOA will not allow drilling hole into wall.

Best solution is flat coax. I used this before doing a permanent installation in my house by drilling a hole through my own damn wall! The $7.95 solution:

Sewell Direct Jumper Coaxial Video Cable, (SW-30513)

It is very flat. Ghost Wire Flat Coaxial RG6 Jumper cable is an ideal solution for anyone interested in avoiding drilling or cutting holes in walls when installing cable. It is perfect for people who are renting or just looking for an easy cable installation. The Ghost cable is super thin and moldable. It can be bent and folded to fit through small openings like windows or doors frames. This cable is primarily used when running coaxial cable (usually for cable TV) from an outdoor cable box into a home, apartment, or RV. This cable run usually requires drilling a hole from outside into your home, running the cable through the hole, then terminating the cable. This process can be time consuming and difficult and if you are renting it might not even be an option. Plus who really wants to drill a hole in their house. The solution is the Ghost Wire Flat RG6 Jumper Cable. The Ghost cable is essentially a bridge from the outdoors into the home that does not require a complicated and messy installation. The cable can be run through a window or door frame without drilling any holes or terminating any cable. The cable is super thin and moldable letting you perfectly match the available space between doors and windows. At only 0.25mm think the Ghost cables is the thinnest coaxial cable in the world. Unlike other flat cables the Ghost wire comes with adhesive strips that stick the F type cable heads into position so that it does not move or break when opening doors and windows for normal use. The cable is so thin that once in place it can be painted over making almost invisible.

This one is approved by DISH: Flat Cable CCTV JUMPER Dish Network and Directv Approved

Another solution if you have a window nearby:


Yes. I was on the board for a while too, so I know how “those” people operate.

I ended up trying an outdoor antenna with a coax, but there was too much tree coverage, I ended up using a mohu leaf in a window in a different part of the condo with better coverage.

That wouldn’t fly at this condo, lol.

They made you install window blinds, even if you never closed them. They gave out tickets for bicycles that were parked parallel to the railing instead of perpendicular to the railing on your own damn balcony (not common area). They didn’t allow un-approved outdoor furniture on the balconies (you want a chair, it has to be an outdoor chair. you want lighting, has to be approved for outdoor use, etc.). Etc. etc. etc.

I no longer live there, so I’m not really looking for a solution. I’m just telling other people who may stumble across this thread. They can’t deny you installing it on your own balcony, but they can make your life a living hell by trying to get the feed inside. I probably should have called the FCC, but I found a workaround.

Did this condo happen to be in China or Mother Russia? :wink:

LOL, no. It was in the metro-DC area.

No further explanation needed. :slight_smile:


The FCC cannot do anything here. The outer wall of a condo is common area and covered as exempt from the OTARD rule.

Well, it seems many condo owners use the flat coax solution to get their antenna connected inside. The Ghost Wire that I used previously is very thin and well made.

but they actually let you pick your own!? …cool :shroud_of_darkness:

As long as the outside is white or neutral colored. They decide what “neutral” is :wink:

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Sounds like you lived in a “Condo Commando” type community!

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Here’s an interesting DIY approach using barrel connectors (through door or window):

YouTube video for that approach:

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These guys sell an expanded version of that idea: Window Feed Through Bar

I like the DIY approach since in my case (if I needed something like this) I would need just one or two barrel connectors on a small piece of wood or aluminum. At most 2" x 2" stuck inside the lower right hand corner of a window. Putting some sort of buffer from that all the way up to keep the area closed when the window is closed (rubber?).

This DIY cost = barrel connector $1, wood $1, rubber $3 = $5.

Or simpler yet, get one of these to stick inside the window in some fashion (less than a dollar):