The Telecommunications Act


QI live in a condominium and am interested in switching from cable TV to a satellite dish provider because of ongoing difficulties with the cable service. The condominium association, however, is not receptive to such a change. It’s my understanding that there’s a federal law that provides some rights to a condominium owner who wants to obtain a satellite dish. Is my understanding correct on that and, if so, what rights does a condominium owner have in this situation? 

MB, Naples

AWhat you are referring to is called The Telecommunications Act. This Act allows the installation of dishes and antennas even if the documents of associations restrict such dishes and antennas. However, condominiums do not fall under this Act, just homeowner associations (HOA) do. The primary reason is that common areas are jointly owned by all owners and no one owner can alter a change in the common areas. In most condominiums, one half of the owners will not receive direct signals from the satellite. The other half may have a direct signal from the satellite and therefore would be able to receive a signal if they can install the dish without attaching it to the common area. 

One way this can be obtained is by placing a dish on the patio suspended on a tripod. Usually this is an unsatisfactory method because the slightest movement of the tripod stand will send the signal askew. Even if you were able to use a dish, you would still be responsible to pay for the common area cable service. There is a solution whereby you can use the common elements to place a dish, if the members vote to allow satellite dishes. That means holding a special meeting or annual meeting for the members to vote to change the documents.


QOur homeowners association has made a decision to change our cable provider once our 10 year contract ends. The board had a Cable Committee make the decision based on customer service, dependability, and cost factors. Being a homeowner, I do not want to change over to the new company and have no problem with my current service. Am I required to go along with every homeowner as a group? I do not believe that an association should force me to pay for a service I feel is going to be inferior in many ways to my current service provider. Can you let me know or advise me on my rights?

WB, Naples

AYour rights are very limited in this decision. Yes, you must go along and pay for the common area cable service. You still have the right to pay another service for cable TV. Since you live in an HOA, you have the right to use a satellite dish. A homeowners association must comply with The Telecommunications Act that allows homeowners to install a dish to receive satellite signals. You have a right to send (a letter) written communications to the board expressing your feelings on changing the service. You had a right to vote at the annual election to select candidates that support your agenda. You have a right to attend committee meetings when they discuss competitive companies. My answer involved your rights, but more important you had a duty to stay current, volunteer to serve, disagree or support the board’s decisions, attend meetings, vote at elections for the best candidates, and pay your fees on time. In brief, when you do not take a stand, you give up your rights.


QWould you please clarify for me the requirements for an emergency board meeting when it is not covered in our bylaws? FS 720.303 (2) (C) mentions emergency board meetings, but my question is what constitutes an emergency? What are the notice requirements? 

SN, Miami

AMy definition of an emergency, not the state or the statutes, is an action to prevent injury or death or equipment damage or replacement where immediate action is necessary. To refer to an emergency board meeting means an action that cannot wait until the next scheduled board meeting. Emergency meetings take place when the board cannot wait 48 hours to post a proper notice for a board meeting. A couple of examples could be a swimming pool pump that burns out and needs to be replaced. Another example is failure of the elevators that needs to be immediately fixed. I have seen emergency meetings called when there was potential criminal activity in the area. After a hurricane or other storm damage is another example that requires immediate action by the board. Any action or decisions made during the emergency meeting must be ratified at the next scheduled board meeting. The emergency meeting should only discuss the one event necessary to call the emergency meeting. If an emergency meeting is called to discuss a subject that could be delayed until the next board meeting, or 48 hours proper notice, it is an improper emergency meeting.



QIf the board of a condominium decides to do renovations but does not conduct a vote for approval by the owners, are the owners by law, obligated to pay the assessment? 

LB, Miami

AThe Condominium Act requires a board to maintain the property. This is their primary responsibility. If the renovations only replace aging or depreciated items by like kind repairs, that is the board’s responsibility. 

If the replacements are similar in nature to the items being repaired or renovated, the board can take action without a unit member’s vote. I cannot tell you the degree of change renovated except to only say it must be similar. If you’re building needs to be painted, then the board can vote to paint the building similar colors. All should know that property depreciates, furniture and fixtures also wear out, and they need to be replaced every few years. Equipment and systems will wear out and they need to be replaced as approved by the board. Where the problem comes in is when the board starts making radical changes, for that circumstance, it would be advisable to have the members vote on the changes. I would suggest that any board wanting to change or replace a common element that could be in question as to the degree of change, they need to seek legal guidance.