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Drones, Community Associations, and the New Law

The issue of drones has become an increasing concern for many community associations. Back when many community associations were drafting their governing documents, the idea of drones or drafting provisions regulating them was an unthinkable idea, but not anymore. Now, community associations are realizing that they need to plan on how the use of drones will be regulated within their specific communities.

The "Freedom From Unwanted Surveillance Act," found in Section 934.50 of the Florida Statutes went into effect July 1, 2015. This Section specifically limits the use of drones by private individuals and governmental entities. Under the Statute, a drone is specifically defined as a powered, aerial vehicle that:

•1. Does not carry a human operator;

•2. Uses aerodynamic forces to provide vehicle lift;

•3. Can fly autonomously or be piloted remotely;

•4. Can be expendable or recoverable; and

•5. Can carry a lethal or nonlethal payload.

This Statute states that law enforcement may not use drones to gather evidence or other information. Further, no person, state agency or political subdivision may use a drone on privately-owned real property without the written permission of the owner, tenant, occupant, invitee or licensee of such property where the owner, tenant, occupant, invitee or licensee of such property has a reasonable expectation of privacy. Any operator of a drone must not only comply with Section 934.50, but the operator is also required to comply with all applicable Federal Aviation Administration ("FAA") regulations.

Community associations should take the time to review their governing documents with legal counsel in order to determine whether specific regulations should be added to address drone usage.

For more information about legal matters regarding community associations please visit our community association page.

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