Satellite dish dispute lands Palatine Hill in HOA Hall of Shame
Henderson, NV (KTNV) -- A homeowners' association sticking its nose where it doesn't belong, acting as if it's above federal law, and all because some homeowners want to watch TV?
It's time to induct some new members into Contact 13's HOA Hall of Shame.
"I work two jobs. All I want to do is watch TV with my dog. That's all I want to do," says Lisa Wuest.
The law about satellite dishes is crystal clear.
But people in Palatine Hill are still getting static from their HOA.
"Why they don't get it is beyond me," says Lisa.
The gated community in Seven Hills recently sent a rash of letters to residents like Mark Lastwika and Lisa Wuest about dishes that are hardly new additions.
"I'm thinking it's crazy! It's been up for three years and I put it behind the bush here where nobody could see it," says Mark Lastwika.
For Lisa Wuest, "A year and three months went by with no problem."
Then all of a sudden, "It's like I'm a felon now for having a satellite dish."
A big hill and even bigger trees kept the dish from being installed on the back of her house, so it sits on the side.
"You've got to really be looking for a satellite dish to know that I have one."
Someone in her HOA was looking, and it seems they didn't like what they saw.
Lisa was summoned to a hearing and threatened with a $100.00 fine.
"It was pretty much 'beat me up day,' And, they wouldn't listen to anything I had to say. They wouldn't take my documents about the law."
The Federal Communications Commission adopted rules in 1996 for Over-The-Air-Reception-Devices.
The law, called "OTARD" protects property owners and tenants rights to "install, maintain and use" standard-size satellite dishes.
Bruce Flammey, a local attorney who specializes in HOA law, explains,"If you own the property and you have the exclusive right to use it, you get to put your dish up anywhere you need to in order to get the appropriate signal so that you have the adequate reception."
And you do not need the HOA's permission.
But check out this transcript of the recording Lisa made of the April board hearing where she was asked why the dish is where it is.
Lisa: This was the best location for it.
HOA President Barry Tedesco: And who determined that?
Lisa: The installer.
Barry: Yeah. And that's what exactly we're trying to fight against, because they cannot come in here and put the satellite dishes in the front or the side yard of any house. It violates our own CC&Rs and it violates the master.
"They don't get, apparently, that the FCC rules concerning the installation of satellite dishes specifically supersedes homeowner association covenants, conditions and restrictions and any rules they may have adopted as well," says Flammey.
In most cases, Flammey says they can't even ask you to fill out an ARC--or Architectural Review Committee--form.
Except when there's a safety issue or a historic site is involved.
And that's not the case in Palatine Hill.
"You're infringing on your neighbor's right not to have to look at your satellite dish. So your neighbors have rights and that's what these CC&Rs are set up to protect. Your neighbors' rights!" Barry Tedesco told Lisa at the April board hearing.
"That would be bogus on top of wrong," Flammey says.
And it's not just the HOA board members he says are wrong.
It's also Excellence Community Management.
CAM Tanya Chamberlain (at April hearing): We can say where you can put it.
Lisa: You cannot say where I can put it.
Tanya: Yes, we can.
Barry: And we can fine you.
Ken Richardson, program training officer for the Nevada Real Estate Division Ombudsman's office, says the HOA can ask, but they can't tell.
"Even though the association ultimately will not be the decider, they can list preferences in terms of preferred locations that they would like those dishes to go," says Richardson.
Darcy Spears: Can they put you through hoops to try to meet their specifications?
Ken Richardson: No, they cannot.
At the April hearing, Palatine Hill HOA Vice President Terry Beczak wanted Lisa to bring the installer back to her home -- more than a year later"... and do a survey explaining how by moving the antenna to another area around your house you would not be able to receive a better signal."
But Contact 13 found satellite dishes on other homes in the neighborhood, all facing the same direction as Lisa's. One is on the house next door to the HOA president, and another is right next door to that.
Darcy: What leg does the HOA have to stand on?
Bruce: They have a broken leg. They don't have a leg.
But they're using that leg to kick more than just Lisa.
Another family we spoke to who live on the same street as Lisa say they ended up throwing their satellite dish into the trash because they were sick of dealing with harassment from the HOA.
Mark Lastwika lives right next door to the HOA president.
He also got multiple letters from the association wanting an ARC form with his neighbors' OK for his dish. Which the FCC says he doesn't have to do.
"And that's what was so frustrating about the whole situation," Mark says.
We tried to talk to Palatine Hill President Barry Tedesco, but he wasn't home and didn't respond after we left a business card at his house.
We also went to Vice President Terry Beczak's house to ask why they think the HOA is above federal law when it comes to satellite dishes in their neighborhood.
Again, we left a business card, but never heard from him either.
After her hearing, Lisa was found in violation of the CC&Rs and fined $100.
She hasn't paid it.
And she's filed a formal complaint with the FCC.
OTARD provides that while the petition is pending, "the Association must suspend all attempts to enforce its restrictions. In addition, no fees may be assessed or collected, and no fines or other penalties shall accrue against the antenna user while the proceeding is pending to determine the validity of the restrictions."