It’s a common question: Is it allowed for tenants to install security cameras in their apartments? Is there any law that regulates this issue?
Everyone wants to live in a safe apartment or house regardless if they own it or rent it. Therefore it is quite common for tenants to install security cameras on their apartment or entrance points, or even smart door locks.
In this article, we will talk about cameras in rental properties and we will explain whether it’s legal, and if not, how you can tweak it. And if the tenants leave, then who owns the security camera system?
Is It Legal for Tenants to Install Security Cameras?
Generally speaking, in almost all states tenants are legally entitled to use security cameras on the exterior and the interior of a rented building provided that they have a legitimate interest and that the other residents are not disturbed or bothered by their interests.
So, YES, if you’re a tenant you’re allowed to install cameras on the rented property. However, you need to make sure that the security camera is positioned properly and doesn’t catch your neighbors. That violates the privacy of their tenants, their guests, the neighborhood, etc. Many cameras come with a privacy mask feature that allows you to blackout certain areas on the camera.
Additionally, you may need to be careful if installing the camera outdoors. Don’t record other people’s entrances, windows, parking spots, back yards, etc. Ensure that the cameras will record your rented area and spots only.
Why Tenants May Need Security Cameras
There are many reasons why tenants may need to install a security camera system. The basic reason is to increase their safety and be able to check their place remotely via phone apps.
- The landlord may enter the apartment without prior notice. You may notice stuff missing.
- The landlord enters the apartment for maintenance without consent.
- Suspicious activity on the building. Unknown people coming in and going out fast may indicate drug dealing or prostitution.
- Unknown people knocking on the door.
- Landlords sneak into the house without permission.
- The next apartment was broken and you’re afraid that you may be the next target.
- You feel unsafe in the common areas
- The landlord illegally wires the electric meter on your apartment and you have to pay more.
- It looks like someone entered your apartment and certain items are missing.
- Roommates are entering your room without permission and taking stuff
- The landlords have a spare key and you’re afraid they’ll access the unit when you’re away.
- Former tenants may have the keys to your rented apartment.
- Handymen or cleaners may have spare keys and access the unit when you are away.
- You suspect that items are missing and a possible thief is breaking in.
- The building has no doorman or is not part of a gated community.
- Packages are missing or are not being “delivered”.
Overall, security cameras create a sense of security and also serve as a deterrent factor. Imagine your landlord sneaking into your apartment unit and is faced with a camera pointing at him. They’ll have to think twice!
Can a Tenant Install Security Cameras Inside the Apartment
It’s clear that you as a tenant are allowed to install cameras. However, you may need to read the lease terms or the contracts to see if it says anything specifically about placing security cameras. Below we will discuss a few cases that may come to help.
Cases When Tenants Can Install Security Cameras
You have to check with the landlord if you’re allowed to drill holes or run pipes or cables on the rented unit. If you drill without asking for permission, you may need to pay certain fees for the damage.
If you’re not allowed to drill, then you may use WiFi cameras that don’t require special cabling or drilling. Simply place the camera on a stand and power it via the outlet. This is the perfect case all you want is to install the cameras indoors.
Additionally, you may use IP cameras and an NVR with a built-in PoE switch. Run the cables along the surface of the wall without drilling any holes, plug them into the NVR and you’re done. In case you move, you can take the system with you.
Either way, the basic idea is to check with the owner of the place if it’s ok to run cables. Also, you need to make sure that your roommates or neighbors don’t feel violated by the camera, they need their privacy intact.
Cases When Tenants May Not Allowed to Install Security Cameras
Depending on the contract that you signed for the rented space, you may need written permission from the landlord or management company. So, if you plan to install security cameras, alarm services, wireless or hard-wired, it’s recommended to check the contract or get more information from the owners of the building.
Don’t purchase a security system without clarifying your situation. If you install any system without the landlord’s permission or consultation, you may be held accountable for property damage and forced to pay fees or even lose your security deposit.
Can Tenants Install Security Cameras Outdoors?
What about outside the rented apartment, are you allowed to install cameras outdoors? Obviously, security cameras are more efficient outdoors, you can see who is coming in or going out, who is walking around, the deliveries, any illegal activity, etc.
If you live in a building, you need to be careful when installing security cameras in places such as hallways, staircases, or other public spots since it can be a privacy concern for the other tenants or subjects.
If you find out that other tenants have installed cameras on common areas, it’s recommended to touch base with the landlord, superintendent, or the management company. If they don’t solve the issue, you may need to talk with the tenant or even consult the local police.
In some cases, it may be better if all the tenants get together and demand the landlord install a security camera system to increase the safety of the community. This approach avoids unnecessary spendings or conflicts with your neighbors.
Tenants should feel safe in their rented houses or apartments. Installing security cameras may be crucial in keeping your family safe and having peace of mind where you are always. It’s always recommended to check with the landlord or the management company before installing cameras. This way you can eliminate any misunderstanding or conflict.
If you still have concerns, you may consult a local lawyer or even contact your town’s representatives. If you need a security camera system, check our recommendations.