Must drones get registered for hobby use?

Patrick Platter is a partner with the law rm of Neale & Newman LLP of Spring eld.

Patrick Platter is a partner with the law rm of Neale & Newman LLP of Spring eld.

Christmas is over and you are looking at your new recreational drone. Now, how do you get started? Don’t just take it outside and fly it like you flew your model airplanes when you were young. You may need to register your drone before you use it. The Federal Aviation Administration issued rules on Dec. 21 stating how drones, aka unmanned aircraft systems, must be registered.

The FAA provides a website to register drones used for hobbies. You need not register a drone if it weighs less than 0.55 pounds, which is equal to about two sticks of butter. You must register it if the drone weighs more and may register it on the website if it weighs more than 0.55 pounds and less than 55 pounds.

Other registration questions to consider: Will you operate your drone outdoors? Is your drone homemade? Did you purchase one before Dec. 21? You must register in all those situations. You must be a U.S. citizen and at least 13 years of age to register.There are other fine-print details.

If you purchased your drone before Dec. 21, you have until Feb. 19 to register. If you purchased your drone after the 21st, you must register before operating it.

You can start your registration with your purchase information and a credit card and logging onto the website at faa.gov/uas/registration/. Registration is free if you register by Jan. 19, but technically the FAA will bill you $5 and then rebate your credit card. The registration deadline is Feb. 19. You must register a drone before operating it. One registration can apply to several drones. You can own as many drones as you wish. If you received the drone as a gift, you must register it if the person who gave it did not register it.

Once you are registered, the FAA will send you a certificate with a unique registration number, the issue and expiration dates. You also can download your certificate. You must place the registration number on the drone by permanent marker or label, and it must be legible. You must have the paper certificate or its electronic equivalent with you when you operate the drone, much like a driver’s license while driving. Certificates last three years and renewals currently cost $5. If you loan your drone to someone, that person must have either the paper or electronic certificate while operating.

Registration may seem tedious, but it serves important purposes.

The Washington Post recently reported there were 1,000 near accidents between drones and aircraft – some of those commercial airliners – in 2015. This does not include accidents or near accidents between drones and other objects or property. If an accident with a drone happened, it is vital investigators have full information about ownership and operation of the drone. Registration also gives the FAA opportunities to update safety training to drone operators.

If public interest does not persuade you to register, your checkbook will. The maximum civil penalty for failing to register is $27,500. The maximum criminal penalty for failing to register is $250,000 and/or three years of imprisonment.

Many business owners are discovering drones can be useful. If you are a farmer, utility services contractor, real estate agent, subdivision developer or government watchdog, chances are good some of your competition already operates drones.

Drones used for business purposes must be registered with the FAA using the existing paper system. This also applies to drones weighing more than 55 pounds. This process usually takes 60 to 90 days. Want more information? See the FAA’s frequently asked questions page at faa.gov/uas/faq/. That page will link you to a Recreational UAS Weights document. It is a very useful document telling you what drones likely need not be registered.

So, get legal and have fun.

Patrick Platter is a partner with the law firm of Neale & Newman LLP of Springfield. He can be reached at pplatter@nnlaw.com.

This article originally appeared in the Springfield Business Journal

A Missouri Residential Landlord’s Guide to Security Deposit Law

           Security deposits and how landlords use them can be a source of much dispute and litigation between landlords and tenants. In fact, earlier this year, the Missouri Court of Appeals, Southern District, decided Younker v. Investment Realty, Inc., 461 S.W.3d 1 (Mo. Ct. App. 2015), which centered on such a dispute. That case ruled in favor of the tenants and held that the statutory requirements imposed by Missouri law on residential landlords cannot be contractually varied or altered, regardless of lease terms agreed to by the tenant.

            Missouri landlords should be aware of several statutory and common law rules that govern how security deposits may be applied for repairs and the manner in which a tenant’s security deposit must be returned. Failure to understand the relevant Missouri law, as Younker v. Investment Realty, Inc. demonstrates, could leave a landlord exposed to potentially costly legal disputes and litigation. Specifically, there are at least three sets of important statutory and common law rules governing security deposits in Missouri that landlords should discuss with an experienced attorney. The Law Firm of Neale & Newman is proud to have represented and advised Missouri landlords for decades and can assist you in understanding each of these important areas of Missouri landlord-tenant law.

        First, any Missouri landlord should be aware that Missouri law limits how much a landlord can charge a tenant for a security deposit. The amount that may be charged depends on the type of property being rented and the amount of the rent. Landlords should review with an attorney the amount charged to tenants as a security deposit in order to insure compliance.

        Second, Missouri law sets a time limit for how long a landlord may wait before returning that portion of the security deposit, if any, that is owed to a tenant after the termination of the rental agreement.   In the event the full security deposit is not returned to the tenant, Missouri law imposes certain notice requirements with which a landlord must comply. A failure to comply with these notice requirements can expose a landlord to civil liability for damages and statutory penalties. Landlords thus should review their security deposit refund practices with an experienced attorney to insure compliance with the relevant Missouri law.

        Third, Missouri law limits what types of repairs and charges a landlord may bill against a tenant’s security deposit. This is often one of the most troublesome issues between landlords and tenants. Notably, it was this precise issue that prompted the tenants in Younker v. Investment Realty, Inc., to sue their landlord and continue to prosecute the case all the way to the Missouri Court of Appeals.

        Although there are many reasons that may justify a landlord’s withholding of sums from a tenant’s security deposit, there are also many limitations. For example, generally a landlord may withhold money from a security deposit if the tenant fails to pay rent or fails to properly notify the landlord that he or she is terminating the rental agreement. Similarly, a landlord may generally withhold money from a tenant’s security deposit to restore the leased property to its condition prior to commencement of the rental agreement, if the tenant damages the leased property. What constitutes actual damage, however, as opposed to ordinary wear and tear, has been the subject of significant litigation.

        Before withholding money from a tenant’s security deposit, a landlord should talk with an attorney to understand what type of charges may be appropriately against the security deposit. This is especially true because the relevant statutes do not define “ordinary wear and tear,” and thus the definition of the phrase is defined by Missouri case law in decisions like the recent Missouri Court of Appeals case. Additionally, landlords should review any cleaning fees or other charges with an attorney because billing certain fees for cleaning or related activities may not be proper, depending on the specific facts of the case.

        When a tenant actually damages the leased property and the landlord intends to withhold all or a portion of the tenant’s security deposit, the landlord should keep all receipts for repairs and photos of any damage on file. This precaution will help a landlord if a tenant challenges the landlord’s withholding some time down the road. Because the statute of limitations for landlord-tenant disputes can run for many years, a landlord who fails to keep such receipts and photos may have difficulty defending against the tenant’s claims.

         No plan to avoid a landlord-tenant dispute over a security deposit will avoid all conflict; however, landlords can take important steps to protect their interests by following the pertinent Missouri law that applies to tenant security deposits. The Law Firm of Neale & Newman has been providing legal services in Missouri for over 100 years, and the attorneys at Neale & Newman understand the importance of complying with Missouri law as it pertains to landlords and tenants. Our attorneys can help you determine whether your business is charging tenants a permissible security deposit amount and whether your processes and procedures for returning a tenant’s security deposit or, when necessary, withholding amounts from it are appropriate under the most recent Missouri law. Discussing with experienced legal counsel these and other issues that may arise is a landlord’s best bet for avoiding liability.

Incorporating Gifting In Your Estate Plan

A carefully planned estate plan involves meeting not only one’s financial, but also one’s personal, objectives. By incorporating gifting in your estate plan, it is possible to minimize the need for probate administration, reduce the impact of estate, gift, and income taxes, and accelerate the enjoyment of the gifts by the recipient. Continue reading “Incorporating Gifting In Your Estate Plan” »

Why Employers are Personally Liable for Occupational Diseases — and What to do About It

Authored by Patrick J. Platter
Partner – The Law Firm of Neale & Newman, L.L.P.

Q.    Why is this subject important to my business?
For over seventy years, employers were only liable for occupational diseases suffered by employees through workers’ compensation. This meant that insurers, or self-insured workers’ compensation programs, provided full insurance coverage for medical treatment and disability benefits under the Missouri Workers’ Compensation Law, regardless of Continue reading “Why Employers are Personally Liable for Occupational Diseases — and What to do About It” »

Independent Contractor or Employee? Avoiding Possible Sanctions and/or Penalties

By:  Daniel K. Wooten, Esq.

Increased governmental scrutiny of independent contractor relationships is a substantial concern for employers who use independent contractors in the work force.

Under President Obama’s fiscal year 2012 budget proposal, the United States Department of Labor would receive $46 million for initiatives with other agencies to fund Continue reading “Independent Contractor or Employee? Avoiding Possible Sanctions and/or Penalties” »