Do landowners own the air above their land?

I’m expanding my popular How to invest in land guide with a series of short articles. Let’s explore some curious questions about investing in land which I couldn’t squeeze into the original article! 

Question 1: Do landowners own the airspace above their land?

“Get off my land!” is a famous phrase, usually bellowed by a farmer holding a shotgun. What about “Get out of my airspace!”

In an age where airborne drones are cheap and nimble, these pesky visitors have raised old questions. Do you truly own the space above your land, or is it just the ground itself?

Answer: As a landlord you don’t actually ‘own the air’ above your land, but you do have some ‘rights’ over the airspace. It all depends on altitude.

The lower stratum

This is the close airspace that you would consider as part of your immediate personal space when standing on your land.

If you could hit an overhead object with a tennis ball and racket, it’s probably in the lower stratum. The line is drawn at circa 100m.

Anything in this layer is said to interfere with your quiet enjoyment of your property. As a result, you are entitled to act to protect this airspace in the same way you would if someone trespassed onto your land on foot. It’s yours to control!

The upper stratum

Above the lower stratum sits the upper stratum. The Civil Aviation Act 1982 decides that this layer is distant enough to not impact your enjoyment of the land.

Your ownership of the land below grants you absolutely no rights over the upper stratum.

Therefore your sphere of legal influence is limited to a 100 metre slice of air above your property. Any higher, and the space is essentially a state-owned neighbour on a 3D map.

If you’re also interested in investing in property, visit our How to invest in property guide.

Other questions:

advertising signs, and tower cranes being used for construction work on neighbouring land but which swing across your airspace.

Do you own the ground below and air above?

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