Drones and Your Association

Posted on Friday July 15, 2016 |



You’ve probably seen stories about drones in the news. Or, you might be the owner of a drone yourself. Either way, you know that these unmanned, remote-piloted flight vehicles have come under scrutiny because of safety and privacy concerns. Is there a way your HOA can manage the use of drones in your community?
 
Only to an extent. In this article, we’ll take a look at some things your association’s board can do to address drones—and what you cannot do.

1. Don’t rely on your CC&Rs.
Unfortunately, in Nevada the rules stated in your CC&Rs take a back seat to the rights of drone operators as set forth by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The FAA’s approach to the issue was supported by the Nevada legislature with the passage of AB 239 back in October of 2015. That means that as much as you might like to pass rules prohibiting the use of drones in certain areas, it’s simply not a viable avenue for your association.
 
2. Be familiar with situations in which you can take action.
Your association isn’t completely powerless; you just need to be aware of where exactly you have the right to act. For instance, if a drone is flown below 250 feet and its operation interferes with the existing use of a property, you have the right to intervene.
 
Landowners, too, have the right to prohibit the use of drones on their property, as long as they give notice. Your HOA may exercise its rights as a landowner as well, but you’ll need to be certain which areas of the community are association-owned. Certain parties are exempt from these prohibitions, specifically law enforcement, land surveyors, public agencies, and businesses.
 
3. Know the FAA regulations.
The FAA didn’t totally leave homeowners and associations in the lurch. Certain regulations for drones weighing under 55 pounds and flown within the operator’s visual line of site are subject to more stringent stipulations.
 
For example, drone use is limited to daytime hours (up to 30 minutes before sunrise and 30 minutes after sunset). In addition, an individual may operate only one drone at a time and cannot operate it recklessly or carry hazardous materials on it. Most importantly, the operator must hold a remote airman certificate or be under the direct supervision of someone who does. Get familiar with these rules, and if a drone operator on your association’s property violates them, it’s within your rights to act.
 
4. Stay on top of new developments.
Drone use is an issue that continues to evolve, so it’s important to stay abreast of legislative developments. Partnering with a good HOA management company will help. They’re adept at monitoring ongoing legislation and communicating changes to Nevada homeowners’ associations.
 
With responsible and respectful use, drone operation can be a harmless and rewarding hobby. But as a board member, you need to plan for potential misuses and have a policy in place to respond to it. For help with this and any other emerging issues that may affect your association, contact FirstService Residential, Nevada’s leading community association management company.


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