Security Cameras in a Vacation Rental

More and more, vacation rental tenants are encountering properties with security cameras installed, which causes concerns about violation of privacy.

Is it legal for homeowners to install security cameras at a rental property? Are there specific areas where surveillance can be placed or not? Do tenants have to be notified if surveillance cameras are in place?

Homeowners

Homeowners are generally within legal bounds to install surveillance cameras to protect their property. Cameras must be visible in common areas such as front door, driveway, and backyard. This is considered a reasonable measure to protect against break-ins and suspicious activities.

Homeowners should not install surveillance cameras in any interior spaces where tenants have a reasonable expectation of privacy. Invading a right to privacy can lead to a violation of the law. While there are no specific laws regarding visible security cameras, there IS a law that covers wiretapping. In most states, you are absolved from wiretapping if you have the consent of at least one of the parties involved. However, Massachusetts has a two-party consent law. The law states that you need the consent of both parties to legally record a conversation. Otherwise, you might be convicted of wiretapping. Bottom line, when using a security camera, be sure that people who are recorded know that they are being recorded.

HIDDEN cameras are forbidden inside rental homes. In many states, unauthorized installation or use of hidden cameras is a felony, punishable with a significant fine and/or up to 2 years in prison. If hidden cameras are revealed in rental homes and found invading occupants’ right to privacy, the homeowner could face criminal charges and penalties.

If a homeowner intends to install cameras outside or inside a rental property, (s)he should be sure to notify the rental agency and/or the tenant to be transparent and specific about the visible surveillance system before signing any leases.

While there are surely benefits of having cameras installed at a rental property, it is understandable that a vacation rental tenant would object to being observed while on holiday.  Homeowners should consider using surveillance equipment sparingly during the rental season.  The off-season is a more appropriate time when the property is vacant for an extended period of time.

Home security cameraTenants and Guests

Before signing a lease, tenants and guests should be sure they are aware of and complicit with any and all surveillance equipment on the premises.  Review the lease contract carefully to see if the presence of homeowner surveillance cameras is mentioned in written form.

If hidden surveillance cameras are found inside a rental property and without your knowledge and consent, contact local police, who can help determine whether or not the presence of such equipment is unlawful.

The information above is deemed reliable but is not guaranteed and should not be considered legal advice.  Please consult local police and/or your attorney for expert advice regarding this matter.