Commercial drone usage is helping growth in the UK’s property industry.  Drones are increasingly being used by estate agents as a cheaper alternative to helicopter hire to capture amazing aerial images. There is no doubt that having a bird’s eye perspective of a property on film or photo creates an emotional response and is certainly driving property sales.

Drones and Property Photography

But are the UK’s estate agents aware of the laws when hiring a drone operator?  The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has warned that it is aware of cases where estate agents may have broken the law by operating drones without a licence.

By law any drone operator flying for commercial gain must have permission from the CAA.  All pilots must have CAA PfCO (Permission for Commercial Operation) status and hold valid commercial drone insurance. Hiring an illegal drone operator without insurance or CAA permission could result in prosecution and a hefty fine of £5000.

Law firm, Charles Russell Speechlys reports that over half (55%) of the UK’s estate agents surveyed, via YouGov, felt they were NOT knowledgeable about the UK’s current rules on drone use.

This week Drone Safe Register spoke to DSR member/CAA qualified pilot, David Bridgen, of Drone Cam Solutions based in Harrogate.  Approximately one third of his drone work involves undertaking aerial property marketing.  The situation of estate agents not being aware of the drone rules for businesses is an issue David knows very well.

David commented, “Drones can certainly add a new dimension in real estate marketing.  I do find that from initial meetings with estate agents that they are not always aware of the implications of using an unqualified drone operator.  In some cases they are using drones themselves without CAA permissions. Similar to driving a vehicle, if you’re not licensed you’re uninsurable. The results of which can be expensive and result in prosecution.”

He also added “There could be nothing worse than an estate agent using an uncertified operator and for there to be an incident.  Then having to approach the vendor and explain that there is a damaged roof which they aren’t insured for. This will not only damage the agent’s credibility but their profits too.”

He summed up by saying that it is the estate agents responsibility to ensure they check and always ask for the pilot’s PFCO and insurance certificate.   He said the estate agent should refuse to agree a contract if the operator cannot provide this information. Using a certified operator through Drone Safe Register will give an estate agent the peace of mind that they are dealing with a professional whom has been pre-vetted.

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