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Drone photography for Estate Agents.

  We've been having some interesting conversations over at 'Rightagent HQ'.
One of them being on the subject of Drones.

Can an Estate Agent, pop round your house and shoot some drone footage for marketing? Are Drones a simple and stress free way of getting some smashing photographs and video to market your house? Is it as simple as it sounds?

Well we spoke to Peter Smith over at 'Sky Eye Concepts' for the low down. These are his thoughts.

Drones and Estate Agents.

"There is now much estate agent interest in using drones to provide those stunning photographs and video that can only enhance the marketing campaign for a property but there is still some confusion surrounding the legality of their use by agents. Drones, no matter what size are legally deemed aircraft and once they are in the air their operation, use and safety is governed by the UK Air Navigation Orders (ANO) which is overseen by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). With respect to drones there are sections within the ANO that are specific to drones with cameras on board that cover the legality of use by an estate agent.
As a professional drone operatorwith a multitude of experience and with the required CAA Permissions for aerial Operation (PfCO) for commercial work I have been asked to answer two main questions that have arisen.

  1. Can an aerial picture of a property supplied by a client be legally used in the marketing of a property?
  2. Can an estate agent use a drone to take pictures of a property?
The answer to the first is yes. As long as the client the client is entitled to pass that on to you and it is not licensed or copyrighted in some way that passing on will infringe. They could have even taken it with their own drone. You are not responsible for ensuring they fly legally but I would avoid using pictures that do indicate that the flight might be illegal, such as the drone obviously being directly over a busy road, railway or town/city centre.

The second answer is also yes but it has to be taken by someone with current PfCO, either a commercial operator such as me or it is undertaken by someone within the agency who holds a current PfCO. Even if you throw in the imagery ‘for free’ it is still deemed commercial use by the agent and therefore PfCO is required.  I do know of agencies who have invested in equipment, training and insurance to ensure legitimacy. The bottom line is always insurance; if a drone is operated by an estate agent without PfCO there will be no cover if something goes wrong. To get PfCO drone specific insurance is required with £1 million minimum public liability cover, I carry £5 million.

There are illegal operators out there who offer services, probably at a tempting cheap rate, but these have not gone to the expense of obtaining PfCO. It is quite expensive to do so, that’s why they can charge less. They will not be insured, nor properly qualified to fly a drone and if anything goes wrong the liability may well come back to the employing agent. Always ask to see their PfCO and insurance before engaging them and it would be good professional practice to sit down and agree risk assessment procedures and method statements before going on site.

The responsibility to investigate and prosecute those flying drones illegally rest with the police who are becoming much more ‘drone aware’ and even now have their own drone units. They will investigate if reported and are beginning to ‘knock on doors’ with repeat offenders being prosecuted. Some fines and confiscation of equipment have happened when individuals have been prosecuted and in extreme cases a custodial sentence is available to courts. As people may be aware the laws as regard to non PfCO drone flying and operation are to be tightened up later this year.

For more information visit the CAA website section on commercial drone use: "

Our Advice, when in doubt, go find a professional.

Written by Peter Smith: Sky Eye Concepts. Licensed Drone Pilot in Derby.

Published Tue 8th May 2018 - Last updated Tue 8th May 2018

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