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 in Rental Property
- Why Landlord Need to Install Cameras on Apartment Buildings
- What to Do If You Find Landlord Hidden Surveillance Cameras
Landlords always have a long catalog 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?
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 the 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.
But…Definitely No Surveillance Cameras in These Places
Having security cameras for a rental property to boost up the 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 the rented property such as change rooms, bathrooms, bedrooms, laundry areas, toilets, etc. can seriously violate and encroaches the 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.
Once hidden cameras in rental homes were discovered and found invading occupants’ right to privacy, landlords will surely face numerous criminal charges and heavy penalties.
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 teenage 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?
If the security cameras for a 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 handymen 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.
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.
A 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.
A man broke into a home and was caught by the ZOSI security camera ZOSI C1.
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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.)
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.
“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.
Landlords are justified to put up security cameras for rental property within the legal framework and comply 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 the 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.