Your home is the one place where privacy feels like a guarantee. Data breaches and security risks may happen online, but in your home, you should feel in control of the boundaries.
However, the rise in consumer drone buyers has likely led to an increase in drones flying around your area. Regardless of the drone pilot’s intent, it can feel invasive and distressing.
So, how do you stop drones from flying over your house?
The best way to stop a drone from flying on your property is to talk to the pilot.
If that doesn’t work, here is a breakdown of what you can and CAN’T do to remedy your drone problem, as well as an overview of the current privacy laws surrounding drones.
Current Drone Regulations
You may be asking yourself, ‘can a drone fly over my house legally?’ The answer is yes.
Contrary to popular belief, we don’t have ownership of the land above our homes, even if we own the house and land it’s on.
Up to 400ft is considered uncontrolled airspace and can be accessed by anyone.
It’s under the jurisdiction of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Above that point, you’re in controlled airspace and would need special licensing from the FAA to pilot in it.
It’s also worth noting that any drone weighing more than 249g is required by law to register with the FAA, so it’s likely the drone pilots bothering you are doing nothing illegal, making taking one down legally a tricky issue.
You may find some reprieve based on what state you live in though.
Drone Laws on Privacy by State
There is a chance that your state has adopted legislation challenging this.
Some states recognize a ‘buffer zone’ between where aircraft in the navigable airspace and the public have the right of transit but must not interfere with your use of the land below it.
In the end, the law is still being worked out on how drones can and can’t be used.
In a 2018 Arkansas law, the crime of video voyeurism (codified at AR Code § 5-16-101 (2018)) protects individuals’ reasonable expectation of privacy from “video voyeurism” perpetuated by drones.
A violation of this is a class D felony.
California’s Civil Code Section 1708.8 prohibits capturing:
“Any type of visual image, sound recording, or other physical impressions of the plaintiff engaging in a private, personal, or familial activity, through the use of any device, regardless of whether there is a physical trespass”
This includes drones. Guilty parties are liable to pay numerous damages and a civil fine of between $5,000 – $50,000.
Delaware made it illegal to “harass another person on private property,” or “invade the privacy of another person on private property,” in 2018 at the risk of an unclassified misdemeanor for a first offense, a class B misdemeanor for a second or subsequent offense, and class A misdemeanor if physical injury to a person or damage to property occurs as a result of a violation.
In 2015, Florida enacted the Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act, S.B. 766 (codified at Florida Statutes § 934.50).
According to this law, private individuals cannot be surveilled by drones without their consent, and backs this up with a right to private action, including injunctive relief, and compensatory and punitive charges.
Mississippi has made it a felony to use a drone to “look through a window, hole, opening or otherwise” into somewhere the person inside has a reasonable expectation of privacy, without the consent of every person present.
Texas has outlawed using an:
“Unmanned aircraft to capture an image of an individual or privately owned real property in this state with the intent to conduct surveillance on the individual or property captured in the image.”
Doing so is a class C misdemeanor.
How To Take Down A Drone Legally
In the name of transparency, there is no way to take down a flying drone legally unless you have true hard evidence of it trespassing on your private property and proof of it violating your safety.
So you would need hard proof of the drone:
- Violating your privacy by taking photos or videos of you without your consent
- Putting you or a family at risk due to reckless flying
- Interfering in your life in a way that’s causing a negative impact
The FAA fought tooth and nail for drones to be recognized as aircrafts, and taking one down would be the same as taking down a commercial airplane or helicopter and can result in up to 20 years in federal prison and thousands of dollars in fines.
Not to mention, drones are considered the private property of the pilot, and damaging it would be damaging someone else’s private property, leading to an offense against you.
Plus, the act of forcefully taking down a drone could cause damage to others upon impact.
Not even law enforcement are permitted to legally shoot down a drone.
A study conducted for the FAA (“UAS Ground Collision Severity Evaluation” Revision 2. Final Report for the FAA UAS Center of Excellence Task A4) on crash test dummies found that a plastic rotary could exert between 9 foot-pounds and 233 foot-pounds on the human body if it fell from the sky.
Can you shoot drones over your property?
No, you cannot. A drone is classified as an aircraft under 18 U.S. Code § 32 (Destruction of aircraft or aircraft facilities) and the penalty for destroying an aircraft is a fine or up to 20 years in prison.
Attacking the pilot can also get you in trouble.
Attempting to counter a drone by force might be considered an act of aircraft piracy under 49 USC § 46502 and can land you with 20 years of incarceration. Successfully damaging or destroying the drone might be judged an act of aircraft sabotage under 18 USC § 32 and can also get you up to 20 years.
The Best Way to Deal With Drones Flying Over Your Property
Echoing our earlier sentiments, the best way to deal with a drone flying over your home is to talk to the pilot.
Most consumer-grade drones don’t have a long-range, aka how far they can fly from their controller, therefore odds are it’s a neighbor bugging you (when are they not – am I right?).
Luckily for you, most drone owners aren’t typically an aggressive bunch, just some aviation nerds innocently flying.
Speak to the drone pilot about flying over your property.
More often than not, they simply didn’t realize they were bothering you and could use some sharpening up on their piloting skills.
You should easily be able to form an agreement that would satisfy the both of you, as long as you:
- Approach the neighbor kindly: There’s the potential for the pilot to react defensively, so keep a kind and level head to help manage the situation.
- Prioritize a healthy relationship: Bad blood between neighbors never ends well, keep in mind your shared community and the mutual desire to maintain its positive environment.
- Be clear on your boundaries: Being polite about your requests doesn’t mean you have to disregard your comfort. Before talking to your neighbor, clearly identify your primary concern (no flying over your house at all, only during certain times, is it the noise that bothers you, the camera). This will make coming to an agreement easier.
If you fail to come to an agreement for one reason or another you can escalate the problem to the local law enforcement, but there are a few things to do before that.
What You Need to File a Report
If speaking with your neighbor didn’t work, then the next step would be speaking to your local authorities or your HOA if your neighborhood has one.
Without proof, your complaint won’t get far, therefore we suggest you take this plan of action beforehand.
Plan of Action
Before moving forward with a formal complaint or report, you have to get hard evidence including:
- Recordings of the drone on your property
- Logs of the times and dates of the drone flying
- Records of the height of the drone when it’s entering and on the property
The easiest way to catch all of this is to install a security system or cameras around the exterior of the house.
It’s unlikely you’ll always be fast enough to record the drone on your phone, although if you can that works too.
This doesn’t have to be state of the art, just cameras good enough to record the outside and in the evening.
If you get cameras that record sound – even better as they’ll support any noise complaint you have.
Getting information on the altitude of the drone is tricky, but albeit one of the more useful metrics.
This is because there’s a slight “loop-hole” if you will, depending on the altitude the drone was or is in when on your property.
If the drone hovers way above your house but within the 400ft limit, there’s not much supporting your side, but if they’re entering your property at a low enough altitude it could be considered trespassing.
Check what the boundaries of your property actually are as this can really strengthen your case.
Taking all of this to your local law enforcement agencies will help provide real substance to your report and get you actionable results.
It also helps to gather as much information about the rogue drone itself.
Does it have a camera? Can it see in your window? What’s its make and model?
There are drone apps you can download, like DroneWatcherApp, that can actually give you this information, and if the drone is registered, this can help identify the owner if you’re not sure who it is.
There’s also the option of using drone detection systems as well, but apps are a quicker option.
Other Ways to Stop Drones From Flying Over Your House (Legal & Illegal)
Here are a few other preventative steps you can take to secure your property and further strengthen your property‘s boundaries.
No Fly Zone or No Drones signs
You are allowed to put up “no drone zone” signs on your property to stop drones from flying over it, but this is more of a gentlemen’s agreement, not a legal step you can take.
However, it should work on the average drone-flying neighbor and it gets your point across clearly.
If you want to legally establish your house as a “no-fly zone” you’ll need to refer to your individual state laws about how to start that process as you’ll need to get approval.
You may get lucky if you live near sensitive areas, such as national parks or schools. You can reach out to your local flight administration to see about getting your property covered in tandem.
Get Advice From Your Homeowner’s Association
It’s worth checking in with your homeowner’s association to see if they know of anyone else who has experienced this problem and what they did about it.
Ask them to advise on relevant laws in the area prohibiting such use of a drone and for advice on how to approach the situation. Maybe someone even knows the drone owner.
This is also a great way to alert the community and bring the topic to discussion so you can create rules that suit the whole community.
Signal Jamming and Anti Drone Jammers
There are radar jammers you can use the disrupt the signal between a drone and its controller.
It works by sending out a signal stronger than the one between the controller and drone, allowing you to cut the connection between the controller and drone, and effectively the pilot and its drone.
Now owning drone jammers isn’t illegal, but there are federal laws and regulations in place that:
- Prohibit you from getting a sizeable drone jammer
- Make it illegal to willfully interfere with radio signals
According to 47 US Code § 333:
“No person shall willfully or maliciously interfere with or cause interference to any radio communications of any station licensed or authorized by or under this chapter or operated by the United States Government.”
Since drones are FAA aircrafts, it stands to reason that it’s protected under this code.
Also, if you interrupt drone controls, you risk the drone falling out of the sky and damaging the drone pilot’s personal property (i.e. the drone).
Using a Net to Bring It Down
Nets allow you to bring down a drone safely without damaging it.
To do so, you’d need an anti-drone net launcher to shoot a net and have it grab the drone and gently bring it down. However, it takes a lot of practice and skill to get this right.
There are anti-drone drones that carry the net, and then trap the flying drone, but this also takes a lot of skill and practice that is not worth the time developing if you’re looking to stop the drone from flying over your house soon.
How to Stop Drones From Flying Over Your House
The best way to stop drones from flying over your house is to:
- Speak to your neighbors. They likely didn’t realize they were bothering you and would be agreeable to avoid your property.
- If you have an HOA, speak to them. Raise the issue with the community and create an environment that benefits everyone – and if you don’t know the pilot this can help you find them.
- Put up no flying drones signs around your property to prevent drones from infringing on your privacy.
We hope this guide is useful and that using the steps above you’re able to quickly solve your drone problem.
If not, avoid taking matters further into your own hands and reach out to your local authorities for help.
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