Drones

Phil Querin Q&A - Drones and Your Community

Question.  Our community is updating our rules and regulations. Should we include anything about the use of drones flying over people’s backyards?  Can this be controlled for privacy's sake?

 

Civil Law. On the civil side (as opposed to the criminal side) of the law, the common law tort concepts of negligence, assault, invasion of privacy (applying the “reasonable expectation” test), and nuisance, still apply, as does the law of trespass to real property. In such cases, the plaintiff would have a right to sue for damages.  However, with only limited exceptions, prevailing attorney fees are not available.

 

Airspace. The Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”), regulates airspace, including that which is above private land. So knowing the state, and federal laws, is critical before using drones.

 

Conclusion.  As you can see, most of these prohibitions are found in one form or another, without the necessity of being addressed in your community rules. However, given their ubiquitous presence, especially by folks who are just hobbyists, I do suggest having some rules. Why? Because if someone was using a drone for their own prurient interests, e.g. flying over someone’s fenced backyard, or for harassment purposes, it’s far easier for management to take action against the perpetrator for a rules violation, than it is telling an offended or harassed resident to file a lawsuit or criminal complaint.

 


[1] Oregon law also identifies “critical infrastructure facilities” for which it is a violation of the law to fly a drone over them at an altitude of under 400 feet.

[2] All of which are addressed in the 2016 law.

Phil Querin Q&A - Drones and Your Community

Question.  Our community is updating our rules and regulations. Should we include anything about the use of drones flying over people’s backyards?  Can this be controlled for privacy's sake?

 

Civil Law. On the civil side (as opposed to the criminal side) of the law, the common law tort concepts of negligence, assault, invasion of privacy (applying the “reasonable expectation” test), and nuisance, still apply, as does the law of trespass to real property. In such cases, the plaintiff would have a right to sue for damages.  However, with only limited exceptions, prevailing attorney fees are not available.

 

Airspace. The Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”), regulates airspace, including that which is above private land. So knowing the state, and federal laws, is critical before using drones.

 

Conclusion.  As you can see, most of these prohibitions are found in one form or another, without the necessity of being addressed in your community rules. However, given their ubiquitous presence, especially by folks who are just hobbyists, I do suggest having some rules. Why? Because if someone was using a drone for their own prurient interests, e.g. flying over someone’s fenced backyard, or for harassment purposes, it’s far easier for management to take action against the perpetrator for a rules violation, than it is telling an offended or harassed resident to file a lawsuit or criminal complaint.

 


[1] Oregon law also identifies “critical infrastructure facilities” for which it is a violation of the law to fly a drone over them at an altitude of under 400 feet.

[2] All of which are addressed in the 2016 law.