Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
You probably have heard that you should not fly drones around sensitive areas, such as military bases or airports. How about private areas? Can drones fly over private property?
Currently, no existing Federal Laws restrict flying drones above private property. The FAA only restricts drones from flying beyond 400 feet (0.12 km) above ground level (AGL). Nevertheless, some states have passed laws restricting flying drones over private property due to privacy concerns. Flying over such areas could lead you into trouble, as you’ll be accused of criminal trespassing.
Therefore, before flying over private property, seek permission from the owners and keep your drone within the recommended flying altitude.
This article will tell you if flying over private property is lawful and what to do if a drone flies above your property without your consent.
Table of contents
- Can Drones Fly Over Private Property?
- How Do You Stop Drones From Spying on You?
- The Best Preventative Measures for Drone Flying:
- Some U.S. States’ Regulations on Flying Drones over Private Property:
- Can You Fly Drones Over Private Property in the UK?
- Wrap Up:
Can Drones Fly Over Private Property?
You can fly an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) over private property, as the FAA has no restrictions over such areas in most countries.
However, modern drones have cameras; hence, pilots can easily take photos or record videos without anyone knowing.
Using such drones over people’s gardens or homes can lead you to trouble with the authorities for violating data protection or trespassing laws.
So, you must always seek consent before flying a drone over private premises.
With the owner’s consent, flying a drone over private property may be legal if you’re:
- Not recording videos or sounds or taking photos without the property owner’s consent.
- Following the FAA rules concerning UAVs, for example, flying within line of sight and not flying above 400 feet above ground level in uncontrolled zones.
- Not harassing them or violating their privacy.
- Not flying ‘No Drone Zone’ such as stadiums, sporting functions, and government-secured areas.
- Not hovering excessively, hence annoying the property owner(s)
- Flying a registered drone
Another safety precaution when given consent to fly above anyone’s property is to fly the UAV within the line of sight. In addition, avoid flying the drone in inclement weather.
However, the FAA regulations may differ based on the drone’s size and its purposes (commercial or recreational).
For example, the law forbids using drones to record videos or sounds and take photographs for terrorist or criminal use.
So, the photos and videos you take must always be covered by the General Data Protection Regulation, abbreviated GDPR.
Even so, different states have unique laws prohibiting flying drones over private property. Therefore, check what laws govern your country as they differ from state to state and are often exercised by the local government, the state, and the federal laws.
How Do You Stop Drones From Spying on You?
Suppose you notice a drone flying above your house; there are a few things you can do:
- Take photos and videos of the drone flying above your property, and if possible, document its registration number and other vital information, just in case you need some evidence.
- Call the drone owner (pilot) and discuss your privacy concerns with him.
- If the pilot doesn’t seem to admit his mistakes and instead becomes rude, contact the local authorities.
- Ask them if there are any drone use limits and request them to take the necessary actions if the law prohibits flying drones above your property.
The Best Preventative Measures for Drone Flying:
If you notice that drones are regularly violating your privacy or if you simply want to keep them off in advance, here are a few things you could do:
- Install physical barriers such as anti-drone systems, nets, anti-drone jammers, and laser pointers to help prevent drones from flying over your property.
- Install signage, for example, “No Unauthorized Drone Flying” or “No Trespassing,” can help keep drones out of your property effectively. It would also be easy to sue someone if they fly their drones over your property after installing the signage. Please note that you should not use the “No Drone Zone” on your private land to keep drones away. This sign is only usable by government entities.
- Advocate for harsh drone laws in your locality.
Some U.S. States’ Regulations on Flying Drones over Private Property:
Most states in the U.S. require commercial drone pilots to always seek consent from the drone owner before flying over their property.
In addition, the FAA requires that you follow all the regulations when flying the drone around such zones. For instance, the FAA requires that you maintain a safe distance from animals, people, and property to make everyone safe.
Below are different U.S. state laws you must follow when flying a drone.
According to House Bill 912 (2013), it’s illegal to fly a drone above anyone’s private property without their consent.
Nevertheless, research professors, power or gas employees, and law enforcement officers may fly drones above your private property during an emergency, search and rescue missions, and academic research sessions.
Even so, no one should be captured in the photos or videos.
However, other things, such as the property, may be visible in the photographs and videos. Otherwise, avoid capturing images for surveillance, as you may be accused of capturing and having photos for surveillance. You’ll be guilty of infringing the Class C misdemeanor and could be jailed for up to one year.
Taking individuals’ photos for surveillance or keeping them without consent could subject you to a fine of not more than $500. You may defend yourself if you quickly delete the photos without sharing them with anyone.
Otherwise, if you’re found guilty of distributing or disclosing the content to anyone, you could be jailed for 180 days or fined not more than $2,000.
According to the Government Code Section 423.006, a victim (property owner)should get up to $10,000 in civil remedies.
The law in Oregon forbids flying drones over private property if you have already flown there in the past and warned against it by the property owner.
You may be prosecuted. Nevertheless, suppose the pilot is flying the drone within a lawful flight path of a runway or an airport or only landing or taking off; the property owner cannot sue him. The law allows that.
The law allows you to fly drones over private premises as long as you don’t record videos, take photos, or hover excessively without the owner’s property.
Georgian law prohibits flying drones over private property for aerial photography and videography. So, you’ll be punished harshly by the law if you violate this law.
In addition, as a drone operator, you should have liability insurance.
You are not permitted to trespass or invade anyone’s private property and take photos or record videos without their consent. The Civil Code section 1708.8 controls drone use in California.
If you do so, you’ll be fined or imprisoned due to privacy infringement.
Therefore, if you own a public or research drone, you must seek consent before flying the drone.
The law prohibits using drones over people’s private property unless they have given you consent to do so. So, you cannot take aerial photos or videos without being prosecuted by the owners. Also, you should have a permit to operate a commercial drone.
Can You Fly Drones Over Private Property in the UK?
You can fly drones over private property in the U.K. if you strictly follow the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) law.
The law requires you:
- Always keep the drone within the line of sight.
- Stay within the maximum flying altitude (400 feet above ground level)
- Fly a drone weighing less than 25 kg; otherwise, apply for authorization from the Civil Aviation Authority.
- Avoid violating anyone’s privacy rights by taking videos and photos without consent.
- Always fly above 164 feet of vehicles, people, and any structure.
- Seek the owner’s approval before flying the drone over their property.
- Never cause interference to the aircraft, other Unmanned Aerial Systems, or hot air balloons within the same airspace as your drone, as that could cause injuries or death.
- Never fly a drone with a camera over people gathered on private property.
Drones can fly over private property if they don’t violate the owner’s property; for example, they don’t take videos or photos of the owner or his family members without consent. Also, avoid excessively hovering over anyone’s private property, which could irritate them.
However, different laws govern different countries. So, confirm if you can be sued before flying a drone above any private property. For example, in Texas, you must get permission from the property’s owner to fly a drone above their property.
In Oregon, you’ll be sued for flying the drone a second time after receiving a warning from the property owner the first time.
Take legal action if you notice someone flying a drone over your property. But first, have enough evidence to prove that the drone was flying above your property. Videos and photos, especially of the drone’s registration number, could be beneficial.
You may first try to talk to the pilot, but contact the local authorities for legal action if your warning is disregarded.