Since drone technology is starting to change the real estate industry, California commercial property owners and managers may need to keep abreast of privacy and liability laws. Whether drones are being used on construction sites where commercial real estate development is underway or by retail establishments, owners and managers should make sure that the use of airspace is permitted. It might be necessary to get licenses, easements or another type of permission from other property owners.
Another consideration is the impact that drone use will have on other tenants in a property. It is also necessary to think about whether the structures will need to be modified to accommodate drone usage. Furthermore, steering a drone requires skill to avoid running into trees, buildings and other obstacles.
There may be zoning and privacy issues that restrict where drones can go and what they can do. In some cases, eminent domain powers may allow the government to control what airspace a drone can use. There are also many issues related to property rights. For example, in Oregon, a drone is considered trespassing if it flies over an area at less than 400 feet more than once after being asked not to do so. One pending case in Kentucky involves a man shooting a neighbor's drone when he felt it violated his family's privacy.
There are a number of liability issues regarding drone usage and commercial real estate. More regulations are likely to arise as drone use increases and as cases go before a court. Therefore, owners and operators of commercial real estate where drones are in use might want to discuss their use with an attorney.