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Drone Flying Over my House (What to do if a Drone is Over Your Property)

Updated in 2022 by Paul Posea
Flying drone over your own house

A sunny afternoon finds you seated in your backyard with some friends, enjoying a cold drink. Suddenly, a drone flies over your house. It hovers about 20 feet above your property, taking pictures and videos of everything below. The possibility of this occurring again is a concern.

So, if a drone flies over your property, what should you do? Ensure you take down the drone's registration number and photos. Then, call the police, or in some cases, the FAA, and tell them that there's a drone flying over your house. They will likely need those details to locate the drone's owner and get them to stop flying it over your property.

This article discusses whether or not drone spying is legal and what you need to know before flying your drone over houses. Moreover, it discusses what to do if you discover a drone hovering over your home.

Can You Fly Your Drone Over Houses?

Yes, but there are some restrictions to ensure the safety and privacy of those around you. In addition, there is a significant difference between flying over a house and flying over a person's yard.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has strict rules about flying drones. These rules are designed to keep everyone safe. For instance, whenever you plan a flight over someone's house, ask their permission. Even if they agree, ask them again, so there's no confusion after coming across their video later on social media or YouTube. 

Ensure your drone has lights so people can see where it is coming from at night. Also, it's illegal to fly a drone within five miles of an airport. Most people live within that distance from airports. The law may come down hard if you're using your drone for anything else, like spying on someone.

Businesses like Amazon and other companies who use drones for delivery or other reasons related to their operations are also subject to rules related to the commercial use of drones. However, using drones to deliver packages or monitor crops isn't illegal. Moreover, commercial drone operators must register with the FAA and obtain a permit before flying any unmanned aircraft system (UAS). It includes both fixed-wing airplanes, helicopters, and quadcopters like those used by DJI or Parrot in various applications, including agriculture, construction surveying, among others.

 Why is a Drone Flying Over my House at Night?

There are many reasons why a drone may be hovering over your home. Here are just a few:

  1. The drone may be a used as package delivery aircraft that delivers packages in your neighborhood to people. These drones are programmed to hover around areas where they're likely to receive a pingback from their owner's smartphone. This means they'll be hovering over homes with people who have recently ordered something online.
  2. Someone may have set up a hobby drone in your area and is flying it around for fun. The person might not even realize that they are flying the drone over your home. If it occurs regularly and you want to discourage it, tell your neighbors about it. They might also want to get involved and ensure the hobbyist isn't bothering anyone else in the neighborhood.
  3. Someone may be using their drone to spy on you.

The law enforcement agencies or other entities with access to drones may try to monitor your life from above, but there are ways you can prevent this. You can learn about what makes surveillance technology feasible for those who use it so often. For example, some surveillance equipment can detect heat signatures from bodies within range of its sensors.

What Laws Apply to Spying Drones?

Law on drones can be complex and constantly changing, but here's a basic overview of what you need to know.

Drones are considered aircraft under federal law. Thus, they’re subject to the same rules as other aircraft when flying in the national airspace. The FAA has created safety guidelines for drone operators. Therefore, it’s illegal for anyone who does not have a pilot's license (or an exemption) to fly a drone for commercial purposes.

If you want to fly your drone for fun or recreation, there are no legal restrictions on where or when you can fly it, but you must follow all FAA guidelines. These include:

  1. Never fly above 400 feet.
  2. Stay away from airports and heliports.
  3. Never fly near people, animals, or buildings.
  4. Don't fly a drone near airports or other sensitive sites.
  5. Avoid any base or facility where drones are used by staying at least five miles away.
  6. Avoid using a camera on your drone without permission from whoever owns the property where you're flying it.
  7. Do not use your drone for any commercial purposes, including photography. Suppose you want to fly your drone for recreational purposes, such as taking aerial photos or videos for clients. In that case, you'll need an additional certification called an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) airman certificate with a small UAS rating. It's renewable after every two years.
  8. Drones that weigh more than 55 pounds must be registered with the FAA. Pilots who believe the current law infringes on their rights as citizens are challenging these regulations in court.

Can I Destroy a Drone That's Flying over My Property?

If you've ever had a drone fly over your house, you know it can be a little nerve-wracking. To avoid getting into trouble with the law, consider the following:

Was the Drone Trespassing?

If a drone is flying over your property, it's trespassing on private property. Hovering in one place and not moving very far from where it landed may constitute trespassing. According to the FAA, drones have to stay at least 25 feet away from people and property. However, if the drone is flying around or taking photos without landing on private property, it's probably not trespassing.

Did the Drone Operator Have a Commercial Permit?

In most cases, commercial drone operators need to get permission from landowners before they fly over private property. They can either sign written agreements or get verbal consent. If the landowner or tenant gives consent to the commercial operator, they may be allowed to fly over private property without violating any laws regarding trespassing or invasion of privacy.

Suppose the drone operator has been granted permission by law enforcement officials to fly their drones over your property for a commercial purpose (such as filming). In that case, destroying that drone could result in legal consequences for you, according to Code Title 18 Section 32, 3316, and 3317.

If law enforcement officials have not granted a commercial permit, there will be no problem destroying trespassers' drones on your property. However, it may be considered criminal damage to destroy someone else's property without permission, even if it is flying above your head.

What to Do if a Drone is Over Your Property

You can stop a drone from flying over your house, and it doesn't have to be all that complicated. Here are some ways you can do it:

Contact local law enforcement or the FAA

You may be able to report the drone operator to either agency. If the operator violates FAA rules and regulations for operating drones, they can be fined up to $1,100 per violation. In some cases, law enforcement may arrest or fine offenders on criminal charges if they break local laws.

Use an anti-drone jammer

An anti-drone jammer blocks the signal between the drone and its remote control using radio waves. This jammer can scramble the video feed from the drone's camera, making it impossible to take any pictures.

However, an anti-drone jammer is not foolproof. You could accidentally block legitimately required signals, like when trying to control your drone. Yet, if you get one with a range of about 50 feet (15 meters), it should be fine for what is needed. However, it's illegal to use an anti-drone jammer in some places. So, check your local laws before using one.

Use GPS Spoofers

Install a device that spoofs GPS signals near areas you want to prevent drones from flying. Spoofers use altered GPS data to trick drones into appearing somewhere else instead of flying directly over your house.

Set Up Counter-drones

You can also launch counter drones at the drones spying on you. This is especially effective if the drones fly too high up for simple anti-drone jammers to work effectively. Counter-drones can identify enemy drones and shoot them down with lasers or nets. It's basically like playing laser tag with someone else's drone. However, it's illegal to do this in some areas, so check your local laws before buying one.

Use a Drone Detection System

A drone detection system uses radar and other technology to track incoming drones so they can warn homeowners when there are intruders in the area. These systems will also allow homeowners to alert authorities when they detect an unknown object entering their airspace.

Hijacking Drones

This is the most effective way to stop a drone. You can use apps like Drone Hunter or SkyShark to hijack the drone and force it to land. However, this may not be legal in some states, and you should check with local authorities before trying this method.

Conclusion

As privacy concerns about drones rise, drones flying over other people's property should be restricted at all costs. So, you can legally stop a drone from flying over your property and detain its pilot until the police arrive. Moreover, you may record some wrong activities of the drone to provide legal proof against it. Still, there is a need for proper regulations related to privacy regarding domestic drones.

Always follow your local government's rules and regulations if you love flying drones. As a result, a complaint against you may lead to a reduction in penalties. In addition, always ensure that your drone is insured before using it. Overall, think about how your actions can impact the people around you, and be prepared to face the consequences should things go awry.

author-paul-posea-picture
Hi, I'm Paul.
A big drone enthusiast, reviewing, comparing and writing about drones since 2015. I'm all about helping people enjoy and even monetize their hobby.
paul posea
Paul Posea
Hi, I'm a long-time drone reviewer and I hope my articles and comparisons on this site as well as Dronesgator's youtube channel are of as much help as possible.

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