Estimated reading time: 9 minutes
Drones are not new. They have existed in one form or another for decades now. Sure, they are smaller now, or bigger even, but we have had the technology for a while.
At least, the military did. What is quite recent is the availability of drones for personal use? Buying a drone until very recently was something that only a select few could do. Now, you can pick up a good one for a couple of hundred bucks.
So, Can a Drone Fly Over My House?
The short answer is probably yes. Drones have some restrictions to keep people safe and protect their privacy, but they aren’t always followed and are rarely enforceable. You have the right to fly your drone over your house, but in some situations so do other people. This article will cover everything you need to know about drones and your home and how to protect yourself, and anything else you might want to know.
Table of contents:
What are the problems with Low-Flying Drones?
There are a few immediately obvious problems with low-flying drones. First, the lower you are flying the more likely you are to hit someone or something. This is part of the reason there are so few airplane crashes.
What are they going to crash into at 37,000 feet (ca. 11 km)?
Drones are also quite loud, flying them around the neighborhood just a few feet off the ground is going to irritate everyone.
People also generally don’t want to be near your drone. It might make them nervous if they think you might crash into them or their property.
Furthermore, drones with cameras are a total invasion of privacy. Low flying drones are also more likely to get attacked by an animal, like a bird. In some cities in Europe like Germany and the Netherlands in particular.
They have interestingly taught birds of prey to hunt drones out the sky. Perhaps this is something you could look into!
Can a drone camera see in my house?
A drone should not be flying low enough to see into your house. But, they certainly could.
Their cameras can be very high quality, with excellent zoom. If someone were to fly their drone into your backyard and if your blinds weren’t drawn, they could see into your house easily.
This is part of the reason drones are not supposed to fly at ground level, someone could easily use one to spy on their neighbors. This isn’t legal, of course, but it is a very real problem to be aware of.
If you are worried about drones being able to see into your home, it’s a good idea to keep the blinds drawn or have tinted windows. If you know who the drone belongs to, you can also call the police.
What are your rights as a homeowner with drones?
Here’s where it gets a little tricky. When you buy land, you also buy the ground below it and the air above it. Typically, you own about 500 feet downwards of property and upwards.
Well, that’s the tricky part. It isn’t often specified in the deed to the house or in the law. The estimates are that you own about 500-1000 feet above the land.
This means two things. First, yes you can fly your drone in your own air space. It also means that someone else flying their drone in your airspace is invading your personal property and you are thus allowed to take appropriate action. Again, what is appropriate isn’t easy to put a pin in.
Sometimes a drone flying onto your property could be classified as harassment, sometimes it is simply impolite. It is also very hard to prove whether or not the drone was in your air space. Or was it simply in your neighbor’s airspace, but at such an angle it was looking onto your property?
What are the law concerning drones?
Since drones are quite new to being used widely, the American judicial system hasn’t quite caught up.
Laws about drones are very vague at best, some states have no laws at all. Only a handful have laws requiring drones to fly up to 400 feet.
Most drones aren’t even recognized by the FAA, so trying to fit them into a specific legal bracket isn’t the easiest.
Your best bet if someone is flying a drone over your property, or photographing you without your permission, is to file charges for harassment and trespassing. Calling the police on someone is normally a good deterrent.
Your best bet is going on your state’s website to check with local laws, you may be surprised to find out what your rights and responsibilities are.
So, Is it legal to fly a drone over my house?
Yes, it is legal to fly a drone over your house. You own the state, after all. Depending on where you live, you might be required to only fly at a certain height (apart from takeoff and landing, of course) so it’s important to do your research.
If you are living in a built-up area, like the city center, then flying above your home may be considered dangerous simply because there are too many other variables.
Since you should fly away from other people and their property, flying in built-up areas can be tricky.
If you are in the suburbs, or the countryside, well that’s a little better. Since you own the property, you always have a right to fly over it.
You could, in theory, fly an actual plane over your house too. Of course, that doesn’t work out to be all that plausible unless you own a heck of a lot of land.
What are my property rights with drones?
You own the airspace above your property. But, all airspace is technically owned by the government and is for public use. So, where does one stop and the other begin? That’s where things get tricky.
If someone were to fly their drone into your yard, and hover it 5 feet off the ground, that would be a very deliberate invasion of privacy and would be classed as trespassing.
Now, what if they are 50 feet in the air? This could still be classed as trespassing or harassment but there is an argument to be made that it was an accident and they probably can’t see that much into your home. But they could, don’t get me wrong.
Now, what if they are 500 feet in the air over your house? At this point, it’s pretty hard to differentiate between property lines.
It would be even harder to prove that they are even over your property at all and not simply at the boundary of theirs. And if you could prove it, how could you prove it was intentional?
Where and when can you fly drones?
Drones should almost always be flown outdoors. For two reasons. First, why would you want to fly one indoors, you are just going to end up breaking it or wrecking your home.
Secondly, since drones are sometimes required to be flown at certain heights, it is quite hard to do that in your home.
Drones shouldn’t be flown close to people, they can do a lot of damage if they hit someone. So, it’s been established that you should only fly outside (unless you are using a toy drone) but when is the best time to fly?
Well, flying depends on weather conditions. The strong winds can blow your drone off course damaging it or damaging someone else’s property.
Some drones can stand up to high winds, but not all. Flying in the rain can also knock your drone out of the sky if you are using a cheap one.
You should also avoid flying at night. You cannot see where you are going very well, you could easily fly your drone into a telephone wire and cause a blackout.
Lastly, restricted airspace is restricted for any kind of aircraft. You are not allowed to fly your drone within 5 mile radius of any airport. If you try to fly your drone over an airport, chances are your drone is getting shot out of the sky and you will be spending the night in a jail cell.
Here is a great article about Drone Laws. Must Read
Can you shoot a drone over your house?
In some circumstances, If the drone posed some kind of threat to you, you could probably justify shooting it. However, that’s about it.
Drones are technically civil aircraft (according to the FAA) meaning they must be dealt with by the courts. If someone is flying their drone on your property, you would need to take them to court not just shoot the drone out of the sky.
Additionally, shooting the drone is dangerous. If it’s in the sky, you will need to shoot straight up. Which means your bullet will come straight back down.
You could kill somebody. If you are living out in the country on one hundred acres and someone flies their drone up to your porch, then by all means blow it out of the sky.
They could sue you for the destruction of property, but they probably wouldn’t win.
So, yes you can fly drones over your house. No, other people shouldn’t be able to. But they probably can. It is very hard to get people to stop, even with the police involved.
As the police simply aren’t going to catch them in the act. Unfortunately, it is also inadvisable to try and shoot their trespassing drone out of the sky. You will end up in far more trouble than they do.
So, that leaves you with two options. Rely on the courts, or, train some kind of bird of prey to hunt drones on your property. As cool as that might be, you are better off leaving things with the court.
The best way to find your rights as the homeowner and as the drone pilot is by checking your state’s government website for the specifics.
Stay Safe and Happy Flying!!!