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Tenant’s Rights Regarding Security Cameras

Tenant’s Rights Regarding Security Cameras

Tenant’s Rights Regarding Security Cameras


Tenant’s Rights Regarding Security Cameras

As surveillance technology continues to advance, it becomes more and more important to be aware of your privacy rights. For tenants, knowing your rights is critical to feeling safe in your home.  

While landlords have a limited right to use surveillance cameras in common areas of rental properties, when used incorrectly or with bad intent it can constitute a form of tenant harassment. If you have concerns about the way that security cameras or other surveillance is being used at your property, speak with a San Francisco tenant's rights lawyer today.

What's the Distinction Between Common Areas and Personal Space?

Landlords must provide tenants with a safe place to live, so there is a legal justification for putting surveillance cameras in common areas. For example, a landlord can place cameras in hallways, shared entryways, and laundry rooms – areas where there is no expectation of privacy. However, your landlord cannot point a camera at your front door or place cameras inside your unit. This is an invasion of your privacy and may be grounds for legal action.

Tenants have a right to privacy inside their apartment or home. A landlord cannot use surveillance cameras to monitor you, your lifestyle, or your guests. Pointing surveillance cameras at private spaces can be considered tenant harassment. This includes pointing cameras in a hallway at your front door to monitor who is coming or going. 

What are My Privacy Rights in Communal Living Situations?

Your rights regarding privacy and cameras are dependent on the type of home you live in. Common spaces in boarding houses and residential hotels ("SROs") are handled differently. For example, if you rent a room in a home, you have a right to privacy in your room and of course in any bathrooms, but an owner may be able to legally place cameras in a shared hallway, kitchen, or living room and even enter a common area without providing written notice. 

How Can My Landlord Use Surveillance Footage?

Landlords can use surveillance cameras in common areas under the guise of keeping tenants safe. In fact, landlords have an obligation to ensure that tenants are safe. But even in common areas, overuse or misuse of surveillance cameras can be tenant harassment. For example, if the landlord uses camera footage to question you about how many guests you have over, this may be tenant harassment. Likewise, it is one thing for a landlord to have a camera, it is quite another for a landlord to have a microphone or otherwise record sound as part of the surveillance.

Another point to consider is why the owner installed the cameras. Was it done because of recent break-ins in the area? Or were the cameras pointed at your unit after you complained about a lack of heat? If you think you are being unfairly singled out and can prove it, there may be grounds for legal action. 

What Can I do if I'm Feeling Harassed?

Tenants who think surveillance cameras are being used to harass them should document the issue carefully. Write to your landlord and ask that the cameras be removed or adjusted so as to protect your privacy interests. While your landlord may decline, writing them creates a written record of the situation. 

Writing letters creates a paper trail that can help prove a problem exists, or at the very least that the landlord had notice of the problem and how it is harming you. If the landlord does not cooperate and you later file a lawsuit, the letters may be extremely useful to showing how unsafe you felt and that you shared that information with your landlord.

If your landlord is found liable for harassment, you may be entitled to substantial compensation. For example, if our attorneys show that the landlord invaded your privacy and caused you serious mental and emotional trauma, you could receive compensation for your suffering. Documenting the problem through letters can provide important evidence to support a claim for damages. If you are dealing with a harassing landlord, contact our office to discuss a strategy to keep you in your home and protect your privacy interests.  

Need Help? Speak to a San Francisco Tenant's Rights Attorney Today

If you think your landlord is harassing you with surveillance cameras, talk to a tenant's rights lawyer at Wolford Wayne today. Our team of dedicated attorneys can help you determine if you have a case for a lawsuit against your landlord. We represent tenants only, never landlords, and we don't get paid unless you win. Call us today to learn more.

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For more information or to discuss your legal situation, call us today at (415) 649-6203 for a phone consultation or submit an inquiry below. Please note our firm can only assist tenants residing in San Francisco, Oakland & Berkeley.

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