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Highlighted
Community Champion

Real Estate agents and Drones

Hi All

 

Recently had a run in with a Drone Operator and a Real Estate agent - Geomaps (photographs taken from overhead Satellites) are using by the council authorities to indicate the size of the section, property value and usually only the top of the roof is indicated.  The resolution you can obtain via their Geomaps is 1:250.  Perfectly fair that prospective buyers of property can see the boundaries, and the relative spacing etc.

 

Google Earth Professional has insufficient resolution, you can find the location of your property, but there are rules and conditions they abide by - insufficient resolution can be obtained.

 

But when you introduce a Drone, which cannot go above 120 Metres or 400 feet by Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) regulations, the operator is supposed to obtain the permission of the owner of the land they are flying above.   But if the Operator then incorporates a wide angle lens, and your house, deck, and personal items including the washing, etc is then highlighted - do you complain because the resolution is so high, that a humans eyes are automatically moved towards your property rather than the property or section being sold - which does not have a house on it - it is just bush. 

 

So what do you - no point calling the Police, not a safety of life situation.  Call the Real Estate agent and them about your concerns?  And then consecutively you find out that brochures have been printed out distributed widely on the Internet, which then makes your property - which was relatively private - a magnet uninvited people to examine your property in great deal due to the digital distribution?  On top of this a large high resolution sign board is put at the bottom of the next doors property/section - which highlights everything on your deck including the car under the deck, including the washing on the line.

 

Do you raise a Privacy Complaint, if the Real Estate agent does not or automatically assumes you would give them permission.

 

So situation is - Drone Operator did not ask permission and the Real Estate agent did not have the courtesy to inform you neither - what do you do?

 

Direct feeling is this is an invasion of privacy.

 

Regards

 

Caute_Cautim

 

 

6 Replies
Highlighted
Contributor I

Re: Real Estate agents and Drones

I agree wholeheartedly that this is an invasion of privacy.  Just like a responsible real estate agent wouldn't show up at your door without warning with a prospective buyer, they should not photograph your property without reasonable warning as well.  Depending on how they respond to a discussion, I would find a new agent and look into the local ordinances about drone flights.  Many municipalities have passed ordinances to cover peeping tom type situations, etc. that might be applicable.  Even if you didn't go through with the formal complaint, handing them a printout of the ordinance may help the next person, and I think this is true even if they are fully reasonable and you don't sever ties with them, for their own education.  Same for the operator, they may learn to ask an agent, or other customers, about permission if they understand they could be liable.

Highlighted
Contributor I

Re: Real Estate agents and Drones


@Caute_cautim wrote:

So situation is - Drone Operator did not ask permission and the Real Estate agent did not have the courtesy to inform you neither - what do you do?


First off, I'm on the side of privacy and think the Agent was really unprofessional for at least not having the images touched up before being published. The Agent should have applied some common courtesy as well by notifying the surrounding neighbors. I would think the neighbors would want the house sold and having a clean looking picture would definitely improve that.

 

Having said that, is really depends on how the CAA regulation is written and any other privacy laws in your area. If it only references the physical location of the drone being on the property then they didn't break any rules. If it mentions language about the cameras being used or width of the camera shot then there might be a case here. I'd still report it to try and get the regulation changed to mention specifically the surrounding items in the image. Maybe even have language requiring a 24-48 hour rule of notifying surrounding land owners as well. 

Highlighted
Community Champion

Re: Real Estate agents and Drones

I believe it is definitely an invasion of privacy.  

 

I liken this to Google going around with the smart cars and taking street level views of homes and cars, pets, etc. Google has been doing this for years and to the best of my knowledge have not been sued.

 

Really do not believe that there is much you can do, except to maybe lobby with your privacy commissioner to act.  In Canada, the issue was raised in 2013 and finally addressed in 2019.

 

https://tc.canada.ca/en/aviation/drone-safety/privacy-guidelines-drone-users

 

I found this article on the web, may be useful

 

https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/101526313/privacy-concerns-soar-as-drones-spy-without-consent-in-ne....

 

So you may have some recourse.

 

Regards

 

d

 

 

 

 

 

Highlighted
Community Champion

Re: Real Estate agents and Drones

Hi @mgorman   Thank you for your comments.  I did raise a concern with the Privacy Commissioner within NZ, they immediately stated they only dealt with Individual privacy not Invasion of Privacy issues.

 

They suggested lobbying the Council, or the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) - which has several clauses within their regulations - which points to several things - 1) Never higher than 120 metres 2) Permission of the land owner should be sought - but also states on the land they are hovering above - but really it needs to state any land that is likely to be covered by their camera - there is additional clauses for CCTV usage, but nothing on wide angle lens or resolution. 

 

The regulations also state you can contact the Operator, if you can find them - I did have a conversation with them, and they did agree, they should have asked our permission at the time and their intent.

 

The Police apparently can be contacted too - on a non-emergency number to report an incursion too.

 

It appears to be a lot of latitude, within the current regulations across the board, which needs fixing. 

 

Regards

 

Caute_Cautim

 

 

Highlighted
Community Champion

Re: Real Estate agents and Drones

HI @dcontesti   Thank you for your input - it was appreciated - as you state the rules of the land, do not explicitly cover this.  Although Australian laws, treat it as a form of "Trespass", which is another angle to take.

 

So in summary there is several actions one can take - report it to the non-emergency number with the complete details, date/time of the incident.

 

You can also report it to the CAA, which means you have to complete a form with the Operators name, and explain the situation.

 

One can also take it up with the Real Estate agents requesting their services in the first place - they just blame the Drone Operator....  Human beings etc.

 

As you state, the rules need tightening up, there are additional conditions for CCTV, or fixed security cameras and spying on your neighbours etc.

 

But as they state, there are many loop holes, and I feel these need to be tighten and also dealt with greater clarity especially when the resolution is greater than 1:250 and greater - which calls into question the issue of an "invasion of privacy".   Perhaps we should start at the beginning and especially with Real Estate agents ask them what they think an "invasion of privacy" actually means to them and go from there. 

 

This sounds like a project and a lot of uphill hauling to do.

 

Regards

 

Caute_cautim

 

 

Highlighted
Contributor I

Re: Real Estate agents and Drones


@Caute_cautim wrote:

Perhaps we should start at the beginning and especially with Real Estate agents ask them what they think an "invasion of privacy" actually means to them and go from there. 

 

This sounds like a project and a lot of uphill hauling to do.


You could check with the Realtors Association in Australia (assuming there is one). In my State they have a required Ethics class every 3 years to maintain their license. That seems like a good place to talk about privacy, common courtesy, and drone usage.