Disclaimer: Before we proceed with this article, you should know that the laws regarding security cameras may vary based on your local and state laws. Before installing any type of recording device on your occupied rental property, it is recommended that you seek legal advice to understand your laws and rights as well as those of your tenant(s).
As a landlord, you may feel the need to protect your rental property with surveillance cameras. After all, this is a monetary investment that you have made and you are entrusting it to a stranger. Granted, it’s a stranger that you have thoroughly screened, but the desire to want to protect your property may still be there.
So, can landlords install security cameras on rental properties? And, if so, is it legal? Here’s what you need to know.
The Expectation of Privacy
If you didn’t already know this, you do now. Nearly everywhere you go, it is illegal to take photos, videos, and audio recordings of individuals in any place where one would expect to have privacy. This means bathrooms, bedrooms, living rooms, common areas within a home, and so forth. In other words, when a tenant closes the front door to their rental property, he/she expect to have privacy within that home.
You should never consider installing cameras within the confines of your rental property – whether they are in plain view or hidden. Doing so will most definitely find you in some hot legal water.
Public Areas and Right to Privacy
When it comes to public areas, one’s right to privacy tends to diminish. It is generally understood by most people that when out in public areas, there is an increased chance of being photographed or recorded. This gives you more freedom to place surveillance systems outside the rental property or in common ground areas of a complex.
Keep in mind when installing this type of equipment that you want to make sure you are not invading the privacy of any close neighbors nearby. In fact, to stay on good terms, you may want to talk to them before installing any cameras.
To cover all basis, if you do install surveillance cameras outside on the property, it is a good idea to include this in your lease. By doing so, if any issues arise, you can feel confident that proper notice was given and consented.
It should be noted that there are wiretapping laws that make it illegal to record audio content – or eavesdrop on a conversation that you are not a part of. There are federal and state laws regarding this. Since most modern-day surveillance equipment comes with audio recording, you may want to familiarize yourself with these laws.
We understand that you may find it necessary to install security cameras around your rental property. However, keep in mind the pros and cons, as well as the legality that these surveillance methods may bring. And, again, you may want to seek legal advice before making any decisions.
Marina Shlomov, a managing partner at ALH|Podland Rental Homes Property Management is the author of many articles on Landlording, Property Management, and Real Estate Investing. A residential builder in the state of Georgia since 1999, Marina is an investor herself. Her property management company is intended “For Investors” and “By Investors” for a simple reason – she knows what investors’ goals are and she works hard to reach their goals. In her spare time, Marina likes to spend time with her family, friends, garden, read and travel. Check her out atwww.alhpodland.com. You can find Marina’s articles and comments at @rentalhomesatl on Twitter, on Facebook, Google+, Blogger. and YouTube, Bigger Pockets and REI CLub and LinkedIn.