Condo Video Surveillance of Private Areas

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R.H. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Hello! Is it allowed to install a video surveillance system on private areas in a condo? Does someone need to monitor the picture? Can someone request to access the recordings? Thanks a lot!

Mister Condo replies:

R.H.,

Many condominium and homeowners associations install and use video surveillance systems in common or public areas of the association. These areas are owned by the association and should be managed and governed in compliance with association documents (which are often silent on the use of video surveillance) and local, state, and federal laws. Depending on where you are from, you may wish to ask a local attorney for an opinion as it relates to local and state laws. For the most part, condos and HOAs are free to install video surveillance in common or public areas of the association and many do so to deter crime and vandalism. Most also place signage alerting that video surveillance systems are in use so as to deter would be crimes from happening in the first place.

Your question, however, asks about “private” areas of a condo. I am not quite sure what you mean by private as the common areas are not private. Unit interiors are private and should not have video surveillance. Also, you didn’t mention if the video surveillance system was being installed by the association or a unit owner. Most states have laws about how and when video surveillance can be used by homeowners. They cannot be used to invade another unit owners privacy (for instance aiming a video surveillance camera at your neighbor’s front door or living room window is likely a violation of law, a matter for the police to investigate.

As for monitoring the recordings and/or asking to review the recordings, I am not aware of any such requirement. If a recording were being used as an association record, i.e. the Board is suing a unit owner for doing something they shouldn’t be doing on association grounds, the record would become a court record and, as such, would be available to anyone defending an action where the recorded evidence was admitted. For the most part, video recordings are kept for a week or two and then the files are erased or rewritten. If there is no crime being recorded the video records are not really useful to anyone. I would say the same about live monitoring. Watching a video stream of a parking lot would be pretty boring and quite expensive if the association were to pay someone to do it for them.

Thanks for the question, R.H.! All the best!

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