Drone Privacy and Real Estate.

Drone privacy, what every realtor needs to know when it comes legal issues pertaining to privacy.  The most important issue is the intent of the photography. 


1. Most of the privacy and trespass issues have already been established by photographers and private property owners.
2. Permission from adjoining property owners you will eliminate most of your drone privacy invasion issues.
3. Common courtesy will go a long way.

The privacy laws are straight forward. You are allowed to photograph anything that you can see. But, the FAA have a few exceptions:

A. Certain military installations and public property where prohibited.

B. People who have a reasonable expectation of privacy. That is, people who are some place that’s not easily visible to the general public. 
 
The property owner has the authority to ask you to vacate the property. Neither he property owner or the FAA have the authority to confiscate your equipment or images. If you disobey the property owner’s rules, they can order you off their property (and have you arrested for trespassing if you do not comply). “Trespass” is defined as any intentional entry onto the property of another without consent. There must be an affirmative, intentional act, but it is not necessary to show damage as a result of the act. If consent for such entry is induced by deceit or misrepresentation, and the consent would not have been given, but for such deceit or misrepresentation, the consent is void. The plaintiff who can show trespass is entitled to actual damages, but if actual damages cannot be proved, the plaintiff is still entitled to “nominal” damages which enables the plaintiff also to receive punitive damages if it can be shown that the trespasser acted in willful or malicious disregard of the rights of others. A photographer may be civilly and criminally liable in trespass if he or she enters on private property without the permission of the owner in order to take a photograph, even if no photograph is taken.

But this does “NOT” give a realtor the right to break any other laws. If you are trespassing while filming with a drone, you may charged with trespass or if are flying a drone without FAA approval, you may be fined by the government.

Arrested or fined? If you trespass or “intentionally photograph” and invade a person’s personal privacy expect to be arrested. If you fly a drone without FAA approval, you may be fined. Most of the governments have defined “drones” as an aircraft. Aircraft’s have certain rights and requirements. If a property owner shoots down a drone with a shotgun it is “illegal”. It is no different than shooting down a helicopter.

Most of the fines that have been handed down by FAA have dealt with individuals flying drones recklessly or over densely populated cities. But if you fly a drone without government approval and accidentally hurt someone or crash into the adjoining property owners’ house, you may receive a fine from the government. Governments around the world are relaxing their process to obtain approval. Is it time for your firm to apply for government approval?

The drone operator’s advisor team has an attorney on our staff, but she is not your attorney. All legal consultation is specific to the FAA advice; consult with your attorney before flying commercially. Drone legal FAA advice should always be specific to your situation.

A disclaimer: This article should not be taken as legal advice. Rather, this article merely reflects the views of its author. Please consult with an attorney to determine what, if any, legal requirements or FAA restrictions apply to the use of drones in your area.

Smarthome, Inc.

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