SECURITY CAMERAS IN AN HOA – ARE THEY GOOD? ARE THEY LEGAL?

You’ll have to excuse me – I have been very busy working in between a healthy vacation schedule this summer. Touring the National Parks with my children and grandchildren has been a real gift.

Now, for some good information!

I received a question from a reader about security cameras. Like the saying goes, sometimes what is a great for one person is grief for another. Here’s the email.

“Dear Beth:

I am asking about security cameras that individual residents(owners) install.
Aren’t there certain limits for privacy?
Where & when are cameras allowed. ‘
We have had little/no crime.”

Here’s my answer:

If an individual or HOA puts up security cameras that point into someone’s home or yard (in other words a space where someone would have a reasonable expectation of privacy),  that would be considered a breach of privacy under the law. On the other hand, if cameras are pointed into the common areas of the association that are not for exclusive use, then I believe there is not a legal problem.

Take a place like a front door, however. The front door may be part of a lot or unit, or it may specifically be common area, and when one walks out, one may be walking into common area. If a security camera is intentionally pointed at a front door, I would say it could be a legal problem. But if it is placed such that the common area is in view, without singling a person’s front door out to record all comings and goings, it should not be a problem.

However, let’s look at what a security camera does for everyone viewing it. It will likely deter crime, unless the criminal smashes it with some long pointy weapon. It might scare off a buyer feeling like the complex is crime ridden. It might give owners comfort knowing that whomever is skulking around will be caught on camera.  It might give an owner a false sense of security. And if the Association places it, it might lead to some unwanted liability for giving this false sense of security. If an owner places it without architectural approval, it might get them in hot water.

These are things that a lawyer who is asked to opine on the propriety of security cameras thinks about, and there should be a good reason for installing one. Because it changes the “face” of the area where it is placed.

Don’t get me started on security flood lights! You can imagine!!

 

 

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