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I have a 10 foot privacy fence around my property. There are no trespassing signs on all four sides. One of the neighbors keeps flying a drone over my yard like they are casing the place.

Do I have any legal rights concerning such invasions?

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  • 4
    Not a simple question, it turns out.
    – ohwilleke
    Aug 2, 2018 at 18:37
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    Take up kite-flying as a hobby. "Oops, your drone got caught on my kite string and seems to have landed in my pond".
    – brhans
    Aug 2, 2018 at 18:58
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    How low is it flying? Are they also using it for any commercial applications? If the latter, you could check on whether they're licensed.
    – mkennedy
    Aug 2, 2018 at 23:27
  • 5
    two words: water pistol
    – solarflare
    Aug 3, 2018 at 0:07
  • 1
    It depends on how high the dron flies. The space up to certain height is yours, so when the dron is within it you could get the operator charged with trespassing.
    – Greendrake
    Aug 3, 2018 at 1:46

3 Answers 3

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Boggs v. Merideth was a pretty big case involving private drones and the privacy of neighbors. Happened in Kentucky, though. I would suggest taking a look at that.

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    Doesn't Really help case was dismissed before it actually went to court. It was also more on the drones operators right to compensation than the land owners rights from intrusion. It also failed to cover discharging a fire arm in the air on all but 2 days of the year in most places is illegal. Guess I will half to build a F 16 to argue border skirmish against a hostile invader to shoot it down. Since the laws seem to be ignoring most people rights to a certain amount of privacy even when you do every thing you are suppose to do. Aug 2, 2018 at 22:37
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    I understand your frustration. Really, I did an assignment on this topic for school and found that laws regarding drones and privacy are... mostly missing. /: Aug 2, 2018 at 22:39
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    I think the one loop hole that protects people from drones is a FAA rule. think its 49 registration process. Drones are not allowed within 500 feet of a person,structure,home or emergency response worker. By that definition in the city's a drone should be what property owners would call land locked. It is against the rules to fly higher than 500 feet, so the second you fly over a person or a home you have just broke the FAA rules if you didn't have the owners permission. The real question is whether the rule extends to the road way if its closer than 500 feet to the home or structures Aug 6, 2018 at 23:04
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The FAA regulations for non-commercial unmanned aircraft systems (UAS, commonly called drones) make no mention of privacy, flying near houses, or flying over other people's property. Some states have adopted regulations on UAS. A quick glance at a couple of them seem to reveal they are not regulating the operation itself, but other ancillary issues such as taking pictures without someone's consent.

INAL, but it would seem that if someone was operating a UAS legally under FAA rules, it would be hard to argue that the state had the legal authority to regulate airspace use when the FAA owns the airspace in question.

A website showing state-by-state laws is located here.

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  • "it would seem that if someone was operating a UAS legally under FAA rules, it would be hard to argue that the state had the legal authority to regulate airspace use when the FAA owns the airspace in question": if FAA rules allow operation of aircraft at an altitude as low as 1 foot, that can't supersede state trespassing laws; otherwise, a trespasser could gain lawful access to someone's property by using e.g. a hovercraft. The courts may not have defined it yet, but there must be a limit to the ability of aircraft to approach private property, even if the FAA doesn't set that limit.
    – phoog
    Apr 13 at 11:42
  • Or, to put it another way, what does the FAA say about using a (crewed) helicopter to hover above your neighbor's property? Does altitude matter? If there are restrictions, why don't they apply to drones? If there are no restrictions in the FAA regulations, wouldn't state law be able to regulate the behavior of those in the helicopter -- or of those operating the drone?
    – phoog
    Apr 13 at 11:45
  • Here's the Federal Aviation Regulation on helicopter altitude operations: An altitude of 500 feet above the surface, except over open water or sparsely populated areas. In those cases, the aircraft may not be operated closer than 500 feet to any person, vessel, vehicle, or structure.
    – RetiredATC
    Apr 13 at 17:59
  • In contrast, non-commercial UAS operations cannot exceed 400' above ground level (AGL).
    – RetiredATC
    Apr 13 at 18:03
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ANSWER: Torts of TRESPASS and NUISANCE

Plaintiff may ask court to enjoin defendant from flying drone over plaintiff's property and may seek money damages.

"One of the neighbors keeps flying a drone over my yard" Complaint

"It has long been settled that a trespass to real property takes place not only on the surface, but also with any intrusion above or below the surface of the land." Smith v. Smith, 110 Mass. 302 (1872)

a “nuisance [is] … ‘a nontrespassory invasion of another’s interest in the private use and enjoyment of land.’ Restatement (Second) of Torts §821D.”

There are other definitions of nuisance. This definition may not apply in where you live. This the general principle. You should be able to complain to the police.

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  • This can't stand as an answer on its own.
    – Trish
    Aug 25, 2019 at 19:05
  • How does flying a drone invade a person's interest in enjoying their property. Is walking while ugly a similar invasion of that interest?
    – user6726
    Aug 25, 2019 at 19:37
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    First, the drone is over his property, not flying over his neighbor's property. Don't you think you'd have a problem using your property if a drone was flying over it? and possibly you or another person or a pet or your car or some other valuable object? - No walking while ugly isn't similar. But noise can be a nuisance, even though no physical object of the defendant's is near the plaintiff's property. Aug 25, 2019 at 22:09
  • The protection in California is for people “engaging in a private, personal or familial activity and the invasion occurs in a manner that is offensive to a reasonable person.” Cal. Civ. Code § 1708.8. Florida has a similar statutory claim. F.S.A. § 934.50. Nevada and Oregon allow for a “trespass” action if a drone flies over someone’s property and the property owner previously told the drone operator the drone was not authorized to fly over the property. N.R.S. 493.103 Aug 25, 2019 at 22:14
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    @trish "This can't stand as an answer on its own." Why not? Apr 13 at 1:54

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