How Does A Homeowner Association Function?
Most of us are familiar with homeowner associations, also known as HOA’s. While considered more of a “norm” out here on the west coast, they are quite powerful and hold a little more mystery than one realizes at first blush. HOA’s are actually corporations that have been formed by the developer of the neighborhood or subdivision in which your home sits. The HOA gives the developer rights to manage the properties and retain voting rights in decision-making on behalf of the association without holding onto any of the legal or financial responsibilities held by the association. This transfer of legal and financial duties occurs when you buy one of the homes within the HOA. There is no opportunity to opt out of the association other than canceling your purchase contract and finding a different home. Most HOA’s are incorporated and subject to the laws that govern any nonprofit organizations. However, the laws vary substantially between states, cities, and even associations. Knowing the laws of your association is important and one of the best ways to become familiar with the associations rules and regulations is to become a member of the board.
Homeowner Associations & Satellite Dish Regulations
Many homeowners' and condominium associations have governing documents with provisions prohibiting the installation of satellite dishes and other antennas where they are visible from the street or from neighboring properties. While such provisions have been enforceable in the past, congressional legislation has substantially changed the law, however some HOAs have not been caught up to speed.
The legislation, known as the FCC rule adopted as part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, says that associations may not enforce these regulations in certain situations if it would "impair the installation, maintenance or use of" such antennas. The only exceptions are if the restrictions involve safety or to preserve historic districts. The FCC rule applies to the ability of viewers to receive signals from direct broadcast satellites (DBS), wireless cable providers (MMDS), and television broadcast stations (TVBS). Meaning, the use of satellite dishes less than 39.37” in diameter, wireless cable antennas, or TV antennas. Therefore, an HOA may place reasonable restrictions on satellite use however they must permit the use of satellites in general. Congress made it clear that an HOA’s reasonable restriction may not unreasonably delay, prevent, or increase the cost of installation, use or the maintenance of satellites. In many, if not most situations, a quality signal for a small satellite dish can be obtained from a location not visible from the street or neighboring properties. If that is the case, an association rule requiring that placement is enforceable. If that hidden location does not allow the reception of a quality signal, other less obtrusive locations or screening can be required, as long as they do not cause unreasonable costs or delays.
If you have any homeowner association concerns, are a part of an association governing board that is interested in enacting regulations regarding satellites, or are a homeowner who would like to install a satellite we encourage you to contact our office or call 602-277-4441 to speak with one of our experienced Arizona attorneys at Platt & Westby, P.C.