Many tenants and renters are increasingly encountering problems that landlords install security cameras around apartment hallways, entrances or inside the rental property, which causes growing concerns about violation of privacy.

So, today we’re going to discuss whether a landlord can put security cameras legally in the house or in common areas such as the hallways, and what you should do if you find hidden security cameras in your rental property.

Is It Legal for Landlords to Put Security Cameras Around Rental Property

Landlords always have a long catalogue of justifications and reasons to feel entitled to protect their rental properties by installing surveillance cameras without gaining consent from tenants or house guests.

The question is whether it’s legal for them to put CCTV cameras in rental property? Or to be more specific, where can they place surveillance cameras?

And if legal, can landlords watch tenants on CCTV without permission? Or should they notify tenants beforehand?

Apartment Surveillance Camera Remote Access

Yes – It’s Legal to Install Surveillance Cameras

There is no definite legal framework in place to justify landlords’ legality to install security cameras in apartment buildings.

However, it’s their property and they can be justified to install surveillance cameras to protect their property and their tenants.

Having visible surveillance cameras (not spy or hidden cameras) in the common areas, like the driveway, front door, backyard, garage, apartment hallways, lobbies, vestibules, stairwells and any other areas used for ingress and egress where access is relatively uncontrolled, is not an act of flouting law.

Actually, installing security cameras in such common areas listed above is a plausible and feasible measure to prevent break-ins, burglaries and suspicious activities.

Security Camera around Rental Property

But…Definitely No Surveillance Cameras in These Places

Having security cameras for rental property to boost up safety of property owners and occupants can be justified in many scenarios.

However, placing interior surveillance cameras or CCTV hidden cameras inside the house where people have a reasonable expectation of privacy, is clearly and absolutely out of the question and off limit.

For example, putting CCTV security cameras on rented property such as change rooms, bathrooms, bedrooms, laundry areas, toilets, etc. can seriously violates and encroaches right to privacy, according to the apartment security camera laws.

Also, security camera audio recording laws are much stricter than video regulations. In many states, both parties need to be aware that the recording is taking place.

That is to say, if a landlord films tenants with audio at an apartment complex without permission, it could invite in unexpected legal trouble.

And No Hidden Cameras in Rental Homes

Many state laws in the U.S. include Alabama, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, South Dakota, and Utah explicitly states that

“installation or use of any device for photographing, observing or overhearing events or sounds in a private place without permission of the people photographed or observed is considered a law-breaking behavior.”

In most of these states, unauthorized installation or use of hidden cameras is a felony with punishable up to a significant amount of fine and up to 2 years in prison.

Hidden Cameras Consequences

Once hidden cameras in rental homes were discovered and found invading occupants’ right to privacy, landlords will surely face numerous criminal charges and heavily penalty.

Cases of surveillance abuse abound, for example, a multi-million Australian landlord was sentenced to 18 months after he was found spying on female tenants with the apartment hidden cameras.

One Upton landlord was charged after being found out using pinhole-style cameras filming teenager girls in his duplex.

Pervert landlord Naeem Lone was thrown into jail after being found secretly spying on a tenant in rental property.

Even though knowing landlords have certain rights to beef up security around their rental property, but how can surveillance cameras benefit tenants? Or benefit both?

Why Landlord Need to Put Up Security Cameras on Rental Property

If the security cameras for rental property are in good use within the apartment security camera laws, they can be beneficial in many ways:

1. Keep Tenants and Guests in Check

Problems like over occupancy, overloading the houses with other guests or having wild parties with friends are common nuisances for landlords and tenants.

They will not only pose impacts on other tenants by causing disturbance and noise annoyance, but also depreciate landlords’ in-house property and furniture to some extent.

Installing security cameras in apartment buildings, such as the entryways, entrances, driveway, parking areas will help keep landlords informed about who is going and coming through.

The CCTV surveillance cameras in rented property would also help curb certain mischievous behaviors of tenants and reduce foot traffic around apartments and rental units.

2. Keep Tabs on Cleaners and Maintenance Workers

Incidents like plumbers, electricians, or handy men sneak into other properties and walk away with valuable collections such as electronic devices are not in short supply, which not only dents reputation but also hurts business.

Security cameras in apartment hallways or on main entrances help keep track of your renters and the maintenance people who drop by on a regular basis.

Many lawnmowers could even access your garage where you stash lawnmowers when they come by to tender your front or back yards, and they could access your property in some cases.

Check Rental Property on iPhone

Security cameras in apartment buildings, will keep eyes on areas of interest without dragging yourself to the rental property in person, which brings tremendous convenience to the property managers or property owners.

3. Prevent Theft and Vandalism

Rental properties are constantly frequented by transient populations who seek short-term lodging, which makes apartments, vacation houses, and new lets easy targets for petty thefts or burglaries.

Especially if the apartments are located in a less regulated neighborhood where the homeless are loitering around and trying to find targets for breaking into, landlord surveillance cameras are a paramount tool to keep your property watched.

The unprotected rental property will be susceptible to theft and burglary for they can be easily earmarked for targets and people who are traveling around become easy targets.

Property insurance claim could be fast tracked once the security cameras at apartment complexes capture the face of thieves, which helps reduce your financial loss and provide a sense of security among your tenants as well.

Video Transcription

A man tried to break into a home and was caught by the Reolink security camera Reolink RLC-410.

Reolink RLC-410

PoE Bullet IP Security Camera with Audio

5MP/4MP Super HD; Outdoor/Indoor Protection; 100ft Infrared Night Vision; Audio Recording; Mobile Remote Access & Control.

4. Prevent Property Damage or Illegal Utilization by Neighbors

When your property has been unoccupied and vacant for a while, driveways or backyards of rental houses could be exploited by neighbors, for example, neighbor’ kids who love roaming wild in your backyard without acknowledge, or annoying neighbors who would take advantage of your parking spaces while your house sits idle.

Avoid such hassles and unwanted concerns by having landlord surveillance cameras in places like the driveway, garage, and backyards to keep an eye on the property. (Also click here to learn how to keep the annoying kids off your property.)

Security Camera System on Rental House

Surveillance cameras signs could also exert influences in curtailing such trespassing, fake surveillance cameras in rental property, however, are not worthy and strongly discouraged for its false sense of security could be a harbinger of real troubles.

What to Do If You Find Landlord Surveillance Cameras in Rental Property

“New landlord has just put cameras outside and inside hallway and towards all our doors! This feels very intrusive…”

“My landlord has put a security camera inside the house, anything I can do?”

In case you find a landlord surveillance camera aiming at your property or inside your house, here are some practical tips you may adopt to solve the problems.

• If you feel uncomfortable about the security cameras for rental property pointing at your front door or windows, talk to the landlord directly and see if he/she can reposition the CCTV camera.

• For the hidden security cameras in your apartment, firstly you need to tell whether they are fake CCTV cameras and if they are working or not.

• Review your lease contract carefully to see if the presence of landlord surveillance cameras is mentioned in written form.

• If the landlord really puts hidden security cameras inside your rental property without your permission, demand the landlord to remove the cameras right away.

• In case your landlord is not willing to cooperate, pick up your phone and contact the local police. Tell them that you have gained solid proof that your landlord is spying on you with the hidden cameras in your apartment buildings.

A Heads-up

Landlords are justified to put up security cameras for rental property within the legal framework and compliant with local laws and regulations.

However, if the landlords intend to install cameras inside the property, be transparent and candid about the visible surveillance system with tenants before signing any leases or contracts.

And for those who are renting the house or apartments, in order to eliminate possible violation of your privacy, get the checklist before moving into a new apartment, do consult and ask point blank if there are any landlord hidden surveillance cameras in places before moving in.

If you are concerned about being taped or filmed by a security camera without your consent inside your apartment building, learn how to detect the hidden cameras in this expert guide.

  • moneyisnotfreespeech

    A land lord knowing anytime I come or go from my rented space is just wrong. When you have a double locked secure entry ways it’s unnecessary. People have to ring a buzzer to get in. But when I go to work, come home, grocery shopping habits etc.. Is just none of their business. It’s nothing more than voyeurism.

    • Hi there, having a buzzer on the entry points is a good idea to keep unwanted nuisance at bay. If you feel violated by the security cameras installed on your rental space, it’s advised to talk to the landlord and share your concerns with them. And If necessary, it’s a good idea to talk to your lawyer about this matter.

      • moneyisnotfreespeech

        Obviously I have to edit this for Gen Y . Buzzer= intercom system.

  • kymykat

    Yeah I think a apt/condo parking structure in an area where crime has become a concern for its tenants is fine. Bu pointing at my front door is a violation of my privacy big time. I don’t think that’s nessessary

    • DiddlyD

      Outside is not private domain and with all the increased problems with tenants violating rental agreements on who lives or occupies the property you have forced landlords etc to monitor activity entering the rental.

  • Tiffany Tompkins

    I just signed a contract with a house that has cameras without knowing efore hand nor was it mentioned in the contract. I’m really pissed off about it. I didn’t sign to be on a reality TV show. I don’t want anyone in my house that I don’t invite and that includes cameras. It makes me feel so completely unsafe.

    • Holly Reisner

      I totally agree Tiffany. I do feel like it is a violation of my privacy! My landlord has three cameras pointing at my door alone. I wouldnt have so much of a problem if they just looked at them if there was an incident but they are constantly reviewing them. The office is right across from my apartment so I see them in there watching them. You are right I didnt sign up to be on a reality show either.

  • Misty L

    i live at my work and i just found a hidden camera that could clearly see me changing in my laundry area coming and going from the shower and bath room. is that legal

    • Ray

      Nope. Cause there is an expectation of privacy there (going from shower etc.) so, not legal.

  • Avocatman

    In NYC it is common for LL’s to install cameras in the common hallway pointing at the front door of a rent regulated tenant’s apartment to try to gather evidence of non-primary residence or illegal subletting. If that camera is able to see into the apartment every time the door opens is that an invasion of privacy? or permissible?

  • Dee Jordan

    I live in a small town , police station 2 blocks away . I live in a house made into 4 units . We have lived here for 12 years. Never any problems ….. New landlord has just put cameras outside and inside hallway and towards all our doors !!!! This feels very intrusive ….

    • Olivia

      You should talk to your landlord, pointing the cameras toward all your doors is very intrusive. If your landlord is trying to keep an eye on the let properties, she or he could just adjust the pointing angle to simply cover the hallway.

  • Victoria Cantu

    Can landlord put up fake camera and let the tenants believe that they were working camera but in actually they were Not working .

  • Madwhitewoman

    If the property had no surveillance when you signed your contact, don’t they have to provide in writting that the cameras will be installed and when??

  • Roy Fernandez

    I live here in merced and me and my kids experience hidden camera flashes in wall from time to time we also hear buzzing thru wall and have had personal conversation leak out to my ex that only someone listen to me talk would know. This is uncompturble way to live and need advise, we also used a hidden mic detector around my apt and it was buzzing off the charts all around in restroom bedroom and kitchen almost everywere. What do i do from here i live upstairs and it feels like its coming from the downstairs.

  • Cesar Minjarez

    I rented a room from someone who is actually
    renting the property, I had mounted 300$ cameras and now I’m moving out, the person I was renting the room from told me that the landlord told him that in the contract anything mounted to the outside of the house is now their property and says I cannot remove my cameras and it must stay there. I do not believe this and think he is trying to cheat me out of my rightfully owned cameras, doesn’t anyone know anything about this or how I can solve it

    • Olivia

      Hi, Cesar, you can talk to the landlord directly to see if it is true that there are related regulation in the contract. And if the landlord insists that you can’t remove your camera, you may seek help from the local police or lawyer to protect your right.

    • DiddlyD

      The issue is did you install them without the owners consent as stated in most rental contracts. If you did you should be allowed to remove it when you leave as long as you also repair any holes or damages as a result. If you didn’t it is deemed part of the property owned the owner now.

  • Olivia

    Hi, Sam, it is legal for the landlord to install cameras for video only surveillance in common places like front door and porch to prevent break-ins or other suspicious activities. But audio recording requires at least one-party consent in most states. You may search the local and state audio recording laws as the proof. If necessary, you can call the police for help if they continue to do so.

  • Olivia

    Hi, Nora, it would be legal for the property manager to install security cameras in the common areas, like the front door, lobbies and stairwells. The best solution is to talk with your property manager and explain your situation. Hope it helps.

  • MONICA VALITON

    How can you tell if a video mounted out side ones rental is video and audio ? My landlord just put on up outside pointing at my cabin yesterday while I was away.

    • MONICA VALITON

      The camera is bout 25-30 feet from my cabin. He is a peeper who also has invested heavily in drones and flies them over unexpecting home owners property. He told me he did this to a couple while they were outside in a hot tub naked. This is highly disturbing !

      • Olivia

        Hi, Monica, landlord owns the right to install cameras in porch or front door to prevent break-ins or burglary. But in your case, your landlord sets up camera without informing you and he seems to use cameras to spy on others, which is not acceptable. If you are uncomfortable with this, you may ask him to place the camera at other common places. Hope this helps.

  • Holly A. Vautrin

    Where I live in Albany New York at South Mall Towers there are cameras throughout the building which I don’t really mind but they lives in into the conversations of the residence and that I find intrusive. Unfortunately they have cameras on the outside of the building to that zoom up on you off their property is that Elite legal to do I can see when I’m on their property but when they offer property a block away the zoom on you can they do that when is it legal for them to zoom up on a resident off the property and into the street?

    • Olivia

      Hi, there, in some states, the consent of at least one party is required for security camera audio recording. You may check your local laws to see if it is legal to record the conversations of residence without your conscious. Hope this helps.

      • DiddlyD

        I would afford giving legal advice in this area and inspiring tenants to gang up on landlords. We have enough problems with tenants as it is.

    • C Target

      Here’s an interesting article. Police often use various devices to do what you describe, and often with the landlord knowing even when there is no warrant to do it. https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/sdut-police-technology-devices-surveillance-privacy-2015may21-story.html

  • Holly A. Vautrin

    My landlord just give each tenant new keys to all the doors that enter into the complex. Each key has a number on it the problem that this manager was having was the tenants was giving keys to freeloaders to come into the complex and to come into their Apartments to come and go as they please not as a leasing tenant. Which caused a problem. Now we have keys and which are numbered and if you lose your key to get into the building you still can get into your apartment by calling security but you have to pay for a new key. You just don’t get another key just because you gave the other one away to some vagrant. But as for a buzzer system they do have one at one door but they don’t have them at the rest of the doors which is kind of nuts because I think each person has should have a buzzer to their door which they can just buzz from the floor they live on my apartment is on the second floor which there is an exit on that floor not all floors have an exit on their floor. I prefer not to use the buzzer system for myself due to the fact I do not have a TV connected to cable. And it also save me the headache buzzing somebody in the constantly on the pad and which they come into buzz on. The buzzing pad doesn’t always work and I don’t really suggest that landlords get it it’s a total waste of time and it’s a big headache. All you need is to have a landline or a cell phone in order of somebody’s coming to see you tell him to call you and then you go down to the door and meet them Point Blank easy said and done.

  • Holly A. Vautrin

    Where I live there are cameras an audioeverywhere in the complex period on every floor at every entrance and there is not only Camera and Video there is audio. The problem is that there is a camera outside the end of the building and outside the other end of the buildings that zoom in on you from off the property either if you’re a tenant or not. Is the manager of this building allowed to do this legally with audio I could see video but not audio. Now you and gave me an answer that wasn’t in full and I can’t seem to find on Google if this is legal to do. The area I live in is called a red zone. I just moved here and I’ve had nothing but harassing comments and assume ability of what I do off this harass I am so sick of it I don’t know what to do.is the manager of this building allowed to zoom off the property I mean a block away from the property 2 violate my Civil Right of being away from my residence of my building way which I live? How do I go about finding this information on Google or whom do I call to find out more about this can somebody give me an answer please

    • Olivia

      Hi, there, you may ask other residences and confirm whether they have encountered the same issue as you do. If yes, you may team up with them and seek help from local police or attorney to resolve the problem. Hope this would help.

  • gary

    We booked a vacation rental on Booking.com. Soon after we arrived, we found a RING doorbell on the INSIDE of the unit. We contacted the rental management but they said it didnt have power – which we found to be not true, so we immediately left. They refused to refund the booking and Booking.com lends no support whatsoever. In speaking with police and several attorneys, they say that there are no criminal laws to protect us and that the economics are not in scale since it would cost thousands to recover several hundred. So, while the opinion seems to be that it is illegal or at the very least immoral, there is simply no real protection from this activity.

    • Olivia

      Hi Gary, that is a really bad vacation experience. Hope that there will be actual protection from this activity in the near future.

      • DiddlyD

        problem is people rent vacation rentals and then sublet or at the least use as a timeshare with friends and family during their contratucal stay and lying about who will be occupying the premises before the landlord commits to rent to them. Landlords have to have some control over voilations on how many people and who occupies their property. Many tenants rent larger properties to rent out rooms using the landlords property to make money off of. A lot of scamming and improper activity is going on by tenants.

    • Cheri Law-Modisett

      Hey Gary, if they told me that and I found out it was hooked up, I’d make SURE it wasn’t working…screwdriver, look see, unhook or damage so it doesn’t work. If they catch you at it, then make sure you had a witness to them telling you it wasn’t hooked up. They can’t have it both ways LOL.

  • BMore
  • Olivia

    Hi Eric, you may communicate with the apartment manager and share the login account of security cameras installed in your apt with her. Hope this helps.

  • DiddlyD

    By definition, overnight stays are occupying the unit!

  • Olivia

    Hi, Cami, in fact, it is acceptable for the tenants to set up security cameras in common areas after gaining permission from the landlord. But if you are uncomfortable with it, negotiate with the tenants and your landlord as well to figure out possible solutions. Hope this helps.

  • Tammy Guilligan

    I am staying at a weekly motel in Nevada and the maintenance worker has tried to blame my husband and I for breaking a screw that he broke and left unfixed, when we told the manager she also accused us without any proof. We now want to record any maintenance done in any parts of our unit, bathroom, kitchen, etc. This is hand held video, not a hidden camera and we only want to record the actual maintenance as it is being performed so we can ensure we will not be blamed again for faulty work. What is the legality of this situation? They are threatening us with an eviction if we continue to monitor their maintenance employees via video to protect ourselves.

    • Olivia

      Hello, Tammy, in some states, the other party’s agreement is required when you use a camera to film them. Also, you may require the motel to show solid evidence that you and your husband have broken the screw. If they threaten you to expel you from the motel, contact local consumer protection office to protect your rights. Hope this helps.

  • Olivia

    Hi, Mitchell, you’d better seek help from local police and attorney since your neighbors and landlord are intruding on your privacy and threatening your life. Also, it is best to move out as soon as possible. Hope that you will be safe.

  • Olivia

    Hello, Michelle, if that surveillance camera is also recording other common places, then it is acceptable for your landlord to put a security camera there. To protect your privacy, it is best to take some pictures of that security camera and proves it only points to your door. You may also learn the local laws on video surveillance before confronting your landlord and asking him to redirect that camera. If he refuses to do so, seek help from local police or attorneys. Hope this helps.

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