In this day and age, you never know when you’re being recorded. Many businesses have CCTV, and there are traffic cameras as well as personal video cameras everywhere you turn. However, most people do not expect to be recorded while in the privacy of their own home.
Below are some important things to know about security cameras in your rental, ranging from applicable apartment security camera laws to how to find a camera in your house if you suspect that your landlord is recording you without permission.
Are Landlords Allowed to Install Security Cameras?
Do apartment complexes have cameras? Yes, landlords are allowed to install security cameras, but with restrictions.
It’s important that landlords are allowed to install cameras in certain places to deter crime and have the chance to identify thieves or other tomfoolery when it occurs. A monitored security system is oftentimes a plus for many renters and makes them feel safer.
However, there is a very real possibility that security cameras can become invasive and frightening. That’s why most states have laws against video and audio recording in a private place without consent. Some states require that landlords notify their tenants of where each security camera is, but in most cases, even where not legally obligated, landlords will tell you where the cameras are to avoid any issues.
Audio recording is much more regulated than video recording. Your landlord may not install recording devices anywhere around your home without notifying you.
Video-only cameras are allowed in public places, however. Public places in apartment buildings could be elevators, mailrooms, the pool, or the leasing office. Installing cameras anywhere in which you have a “reasonable expectation of privacy” like a gym locker room or lobby restroom is strictly prohibited.
How to Find a Hidden Camera
In most states, landlords are not legally required to inform you of cameras that are in a highly visible, public place. These cameras are meant to deter crime and identify criminals that cause problems within their range.
However, if you feel that your landlord or someone else is surveilling you within your private rental property, this is highly illegal and requires immediate action.
Hidden cameras can sometimes be concealed in a smoke alarm or carbon monoxide detector. If you find one, do not touch it. Contact the police and see if the camera has any fingerprints or other pieces of evidence that can help law enforcement identify the person who installed it there. Cameras can also be hidden in lightbulbs or alarm clocks, so remain vigilant and reach out to police if you find anything suspicious.
Can Tenants Install Personal Security Cameras?
Yes, as a tenant you are allowed to install cameras on the property you’re renting. Installing your own cameras or security system can help you feel more at ease, especially if you worry about porch pirates or other types of crime that may occur on your rental property. However, keep in mind that if you install a camera outside your door for example, it may not violate anyone else’s right to privacy. For example, if your camera aims directly into your neighbor’s living room window, that’s not allowed.
Your landlord can have their own rules regarding privacy and cameras, so be sure to check your lease agreement before installing any.
Your landlord is legally allowed to install video-only security cameras in public places that do not have any expectation of privacy. They offer the comfort of security and can help keep your apartment building safe.
However, if you suspect that your conversations are being illegally recorded, this is a serious issue that requires a call to law enforcement immediately. Remain aware even outside your apartment: vacation homes and hotels can fall victim to illegal recording schemes as well.
Policies regarding surveillance can vary from state to state, so be sure to check your local laws and regulations before taking action. Also, if you plan on installing your own camera, it’s a good idea to check with your landlord to see if you would be violating any lease or maintenance terms.