Many tenants and renters are increasingly encountering apartments or rental houses where landlords place surveillance cameras around apartment hallways, entrances or inside the rental property, which causes growing concerns about violation of privacy.
Is Legal for Landlords to Putting Surveillance 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 conduct surveillance on their let property? Or to be more specific, where can they place surveillance cameras? And if legal, should they notify tenants beforehand?
Yes – it’s Legal to Install Surveillance Cameras
There is no definite legal framework in place to justify landlords’ legality to install surveillance cameras around the perimeter.
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) monitoring driveway, front door, backyard, garage, living room, 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, which is plausible and feasible measures to prevent break-ins, burglaries and suspicious activities.
But…Definitely No Surveillance Cameras in These Places
Taking precautions to boost up rental property security for property owners and occupants can be justified in many scenarios.
However, placing interiors surveillance cameras or CCTV cameras or hidden cameras in areas where people are expected a higher degree of privacy, such as change room, bathroom, bedroom is clearly and absolutely out of the question and off limit because such behavior seriously violates and encroaches right to privacy.
And No Hidden Cameras in These Cases
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.
Once hidden cameras 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 using spy cameras to spy on female tenants.
One Upton landlord was charged after being found out using pinhole-style cameras recording teenager girls in his duplex.
Pervert landlord Naeem Lone was thrown into jail after being found secretly filming tenant at Medway 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 Outdoor Security Cameras on Rental Property
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 other tenants (if there is any), which will pose impacts on other tenants by causing disturbance and noise annoyance, as well as depreciating landlords in-house property and furniture to some extent.
Installing surveillance cameras on entryways, entrances, driveway, parking areas will help keep landlords informed about who is going and coming through the rental property.
And surveillance cameras would 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 on main entrances help track of your renters but also the helpers and maintenance peoples 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.
Surveillance cameras, in many cases, 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, 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 you can get a hold on video surveillance on these flashpoints, which helps reduce your financial loss and provide a sense of security among your tenants as well.
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 surveillance systems in places like the driveway, garage, and backyards to keep an eye on the property.
Surveillance cameras signs could also exert influences in curtailing such trespassing, fake surveillance cameras, however, are not worthy and strongly discouraged for its false sense of security could be a harbinger of real troubles.
Landlords are justified to take measures to safeguard their rental houses and keep illegal activities at bay within the legal framework and compliant with local laws and regulations.
However, if you are considering install cameras inside the property, be transparent and candid about visible surveillance system with your tenants and acknowledge them 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 is there any hidden or surveillance cameras in places where they are not supposed to be when moving in.
If you are concerned about being taped or filmed without your consent inside your residence, use hidden cameras detectors to get peace of mind.