2014 – The Year of the Drone

Written by: on Friday, May, 16th, 2014

You may think that drones are only used by the federal government but think again.  Drones are defined as any unmanned aerial vehicle, and privately operated drones are becoming more common and are readily available on the market for a small price ($49-$499). A promoter of personal use drones has declared 2014 the year of the drone as prices decrease and demands increase.

Why should you care about personal drones if you are on the board or manage an association?  The two most common complaints relate to the noise they emit and invasion of privacy concerns.  Consider an owner who complains that a drone, operated by a resident, is flying over the pool and photographing children swimming.  Or, an owner who complains because a drone, which he believes is being flown by his neighbor with whom he has a dispute, is flying over his backyard and taking photos of his home, improvements and yard, and then filing complaints against him with the association.  Can or should your board do something about these complaints?

If you take the lead from government, both state and federal, your association may want to consider banning drones in the community.  The National Park Service has banned drones in numerous national parks because of noise, safety and privacy concerns.  In 9 states drone use by the general public is banned or curtailed.  In addition, a bill was introduced in Washington State this year to ban the flying of drones in airspace above private property.  That bill has been passed by the house and is pending third reading in the senate.

While Colorado has no law banning private drones, your community could amend its declaration to ban the flying of drones within the community.  It could also do so by a rule.  If you are considering such a rule you will want to have it reviewed for legal enforceability and clarity. It may be difficult to determine who is actually in control of the unmanned aircraft so imposing fines or taking enforcement action may be challenging.  And, remember that the rule or a covenant will only apply to owners, residents and guests.  If drones are being flown from outside the community there may be little your association could do.

Loura K. Sanchez