Updated Nov 2019: Recent violations have put drone flying in the spotlight, with people getting hauled to court for illegal recreational use or even illegal commercial use. Amendments to the laws have since been implemented to impose harsher penalties for offenders. Irrefutably, drone videography usage for real estate video without proper license or permit is illegal.
With the widespread use of drones or unmanned aerial vehicle in Singapore for recreational purposes, the use of drone for recreational photography and videography is no longer just a novelty but has become a much more common sight. However, although these footages may look impressive, as it gives you high angled birdseye view of the building facade and surroundings areas for your property listings that you cannot capture with standard equipment, its use have come under great scrutiny not just because of safety, but also privacy issues!
Especially for property agents who are thinking of using drone photography or videos to make their property services more appealing to their potential buyers or sellers, one must be aware of the Singapore rules and regulations regarding the use of drone, especially area limits and no-fly zones around Singapore. There are stricter laws upcoming by end of 2019 to regulate drone use in the near future. Better think twice before you start using a drone or commission someone to take take drone footages for you, as the laws are very clear on what is required before an approved flight can take place for such commercial purposes.
Drone For Commercial Use Regulations
Under Singapore laws, all non-recreational or research i.e commercial drone operators need a an Operator Permit is granted by CAAS to ensure safe operation of UA, taking into account the applicant’s organisational set-up, competency of the personnel especially those flying the UA, procedures to manage safety including the conduct of safety risk assessments, and the airworthiness of each of the aircraft. This operator permit is valid for up to one year, and must be renewed annually. An updated List of Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit Holders can be found on CAAS website. On top of having an Operator Permit, an Activity Permit must be applied before each flight, either Class 1 or 2, and this can take 10 working days to process and still subject to approval from the authorities. All drones that weigh more than 250g will have to be registered regardless of recreational or commercial use, from 2 Jan 2020.
More Private Condo Management Banning Drone Use
Furthermore, authorities not withstanding, more private condominiums have moved to issue bans on the flying of drones within their developments, or have issued statements to the effect of stopping the flying of drones in their estate. This is amidst concerns of privacy and safety for their residents, and these will restrict the use of drone photography or videos for property listings further.
Fines And Imprisonment For Illegal Use
Under the Unmanned Aircraft (Public Safety and Security) Bill, which sets out guidelines for the safe flying of drones and enforcement against those who violate them, and this has already taken effect to amend the Air Navigation Act and Public Order Act. The real estate agent who utilizes improper use of drone for property photography or videography currently risks incurring a penalty of a fine not exceeding $20,000 for the first offence, and a fine not exceeding $40,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 15 months or to both for the second or subsequent conviction. Your drone may also be confiscated and handed over to an authority such as the police. Tightened penalties from 2 Jan 2020, first-time offenders may be fined up to $50,000 and risk a jail term for up to two years and, while repeat offenders may be fined up to $100,000, and jailed for up to five years.
To make your hard won exclusive property listing stand out amongst the other competing listings in the market, the use of drone photography or videography may seem like a no brainer initially. However, in light of existing regulations, safety and privacy issues, recent court cases and moves to ban such use by private condo management, we recommend that you throw caution into the wind and stay on the right side of the law before you use a drone yourself, or hire unlicensed drone operator to capture videos to promote your real estate services! Ignorance of the law can no longer be a plead!