Condos not seeing the buzz in drones

A drone used as part of an inter-agency collaboration for inspecting construction sites in 2016. An ST check found that various condo managements were nearly unanimous in not allowing drones to be used for property listings.
A drone used as part of an inter-agency collaboration for inspecting construction sites in 2016. An ST check found that various condo managements were nearly unanimous in not allowing drones to be used for property listings.ST FILE PHOTO

More developments are banning their use, citing concerns over privacy and safety

A debate is simmering over the use of drones in private condominiums as more developments have issued rules to ban the unmanned flying objects.

Parc Palais, located in Hume Avenue, became the latest to join the ranks of such drone-banning condos as it sent a circular on Jan 8 to residents warning that the flying gadgets may be confiscated.

A random check by The Straits Times with nine other condos showed that seven did not allow the flying of drones. Only two listed the ban in house rules, while others said they would stop any flying of drones in their estates, citing concerns over privacy and safety.

Mr Jeremy Lim, strata residential manager for Parc Palais, said drones fitted with cameras may intrude on privacy. He said the condo was "following government policy" and would hand any confiscated drones to an authority such as the police.

A management representative of a condo in the eastern part of Singapore, who declined to be named, said it passed house rules to ban drones after one was found hovering at the 18th-floor with a camera pointing into a home last month.

Hume Park 1, another development located in Hume Avenue, has no written rules on prohibiting the use of drones. Condo manager Jason Lee said its policy is that if they are used for "taking photos of people's houses", the management would not allow it and would report incidents to the police.

The various condo managements were nearly unanimous in not allowing drones to be used for property listings. "No way," said Mr Lim. "It is strictly out of the question."

Ms Christine Ang, condo manager for Clover By The Park in Bishan, agreed, noting privacy issues.

But bans could affect real estate agents who use drone photography or videos for listings.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore does not prohibit the flying of drones in private estates, but rules stipulate that they should not be flown within 5km of an aerodrome - such as an airport or air base - or across security-sensitive "protected areas".

Real estate portal SRX Property, operated by StreetSine Technology Group, launched a feature called X-Drone last September. It showcases homes using aerial photos and videos. In an ST report, StreetSine chief technology officer Jeremy Lee was quoted as saying that firms are required to license their drone pilots and to file flight plans.

Mr Chris Koh, director of real estate agency Chris International, said his firm is considering the use of drones as it has "a lot of pros".

But he added that "no matter what, you need to find out if consent (to fly drones) is required".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 20, 2018, with the headline 'Condos not seeing the buzz in drones'. Print Edition | Subscribe