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Are there any federal laws or FCC guidelines that allow ham radio operators to install antennas?

I live in an apartment building in a large city that bans outdoor antennas. I recall reading that the FCC protected the installation of satellite dishes and what not for consumer television usage. Are there similar protections for amateur radio?

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    $\begingroup$ When you sign a lease, you are giving up your rights to install an antenna - if you sign such a lease. So, you may be agreeing not to exercise your right to install antenna when you live in that property. $\endgroup$ – KF5RRR Oct 22 '13 at 19:57
  • $\begingroup$ @LordLoh. Ah, so the protections I'm thinking of for consumers likely only apply to those owning the property? That would make sense. $\endgroup$ – Brad Oct 22 '13 at 19:59
  • $\begingroup$ It appears to me that ham rights are the lowest among those being enforced. If HAM interferes with a commercial station, ham shuts down. If a ship captain forbids HAM operation on his vessel, the ham shuts down. $\endgroup$ – KF5RRR Oct 22 '13 at 20:01
  • $\begingroup$ Also note homeowner associations can and do restrict amateur radio antennas in any way they like, even though TV and satellite dishes get special privileges. $\endgroup$ – Bill - K5WL Oct 22 '13 at 20:14
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    $\begingroup$ @Bill-K5WL Yes, because that's a contract you've entered into. Part 97 won't protect you from contracts you choose to sign. $\endgroup$ – Adam Davis Oct 23 '13 at 20:31
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You are referring to the OTARD rule -- Over The Air Reception Devices. OTARD does pre-empt lease restrictions and does not apply only to those owning the property.

It does not apply to antennas used for AM/FM radio, Amateur Radio, Citizens Band radio or Digital Audio Radio Services. The FCC has an extensive FAQ on OTARD.

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FCC 97.15(b) provides a limited amount of protection for Amateur Radio Operators who desire to erect antenna structures in the pursuit of their radio activity:

Except as otherwise provided herein, a station antenna structure may be erected at heights and dimensions sufficient to accommodate amateur service communications. (State and local regulation of a station antenna structure must not preclude amateur service communications. Rather, it must reasonably accommodate such communications and must constitute the minimum practicable regulation to accomplish the state or local authority's legitimate purpose. See PRB–1, 101 FCC 2d 952 (1985) for details.)

Local and state laws and regulations governing antenna structures may apply to amateur radio antennas as well, however they have to show a legitimate purpose for the rule that specifically precludes amateur radio antenna use.

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In addition to 97.15, the FCC further published PRB-1 (http://www.arrl.org/prb-1) to claify the restrictions of local jurisdictions to deny permits; Several hams have been successful in getting denied building permits reversed based on this in court; Other hams have been successful in using this to prove no permit was required in the first place.

That being said, this restricts local and state governments, decidedly NOT HOAs.

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In addition, there is an exception for radio antennas that are microwave dishes 1 meter or less. 47 CFR § 1.4000.

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