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How to Get Around Antenna Restrictions in an Apartment, Townhouse or Condo
How to Get Around Antenna Restrictions in an Apartment, Townhouse or Condo

Information for getting around antenna restrictions in an apartment or other community living space.

Written by Free TV Project Staff
Updated over a week ago

Many apartments, condos and HOAs put restrictions on antennas. However, federal law prohibits restrictions in some cases. The Over-the-Air Reception Devices Rule limits the authority of apartments, condo associations and HOAs over outdoor antennas.

Below is 47 C.F.R. Section 1.4000 of the law:

“The rule 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. The rule applies to certain antennas, including direct-to-home satellite dishes that are less than one meter (39.37") in diameter (or of any size in Alaska), TV antennas, wireless cable, and certain fixed wireless antennas. The rule prohibits most restrictions that: (1) unreasonably delay or prevent installation, maintenance or use; (2) unreasonably increase the cost of installation, maintenance or use; or (3) preclude reception of an acceptable quality signal.”

Note that the one-meter size limitation only applies to satellite dishes. The size restriction does not apply to a TV antenna. While this law does give some freedom to homeowners and renters, an HOA can put a restriction on where the antenna is placed, such as requiring it to not be visible from the street, but cannot outright say no if you have “exclusive access” to an area. Some examples of exclusive access include a patio or balcony. The rule does not protect townhouses where there is no “exclusive access,” such as a roof shared by multiple units.

If you think that your apartment, condo or HOA’s restriction on outdoor antennas is unlawful, here’s what you can do: Politely present the Over-the-Air Reception Devices Rule to your HOA and they should allow you to set up an antenna with some limitations. If they refuse, there is information at the link above for getting the FCC involved.

If you do not have "exclusive access" to an area to set up an outdoor antenna, you can still set up an indoor antenna. Refer to this article for tips on antenna selection and how to get the best reception possible.

Getting started

Watching free, over-the-air TV with an antenna is simpler than you may think. In many cases, you can take an antenna out of the box, connect the cable to your TV, run a channel scan and voila! You have dozens of local channels to surf.

The number of channels you can access and how clearly they come in is based on a number of factors, including your distance from the point of broadcast towers, the type of antenna you have and where it’s located in your home.

Not sure what kind of antenna you need? Take our simple quiz to help narrow down the options. You can also find a general list of recommended antennas here.

Pair your antenna with an OTA DVR device to record your favorite shows

Did you know you can use an antenna similarly to how you watch cable? Ditch the costly subscription fees, but keep the cable capabilities (record, pause, rewind and fast forward) with an OTA DVR device. Here are the products we recommend:

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