Quick question about security cameras. I plan to install few on a downtown Charleston, SC duplex I own. Is there anything I need to consider before doing so? Are there tenant rights that by doing so would otherwise violate? I plan to add 3 cameras overlooking to driveway, backyard, and porch (nothing weird...).
Thanks for the feedback!
When in doubt, ask a lawyer. Even if you have to pay a bit for it, having the defense of "I cleared it with my lawyer, I did my due diligence" could prove very important down the road.
But in my non-professional non-legal opinion, having cameras to monitor common-areas seems pretty above-board to me. I would just make sure they are disclosed to the tenants to stave off issues.
Congratulations on your decision to install cameras at your property. You are increasing protection for your tenants, yourself, and your investment asset.
I offer the the following suggestions to ensure that you tenants are properly informed of the cameras and the cameras limitations:
* Drop your tenants a written memo or email letting them know that you are installing the cameras. I suggest stating in writing explicitly that the cameras will not be actively monitored. This ensures that your tenant and their guests won't mislead that they are "protected" by someone actually monitoring 24/7 so theoretically a crime could be thwarted in-progress. (I post this assuming that you will have a DVR or cloud storage for the footage and that an individual or security company won't be monitoring 24/7).
* Post signs for the cameras. This is strong deterrent and will place others on notice that they are being recorded. If the cameras are located in an obvious public location, the law does not provide an expectation of privacy so you are not invading anyone's rights. However, it is good business and tenant practices to over-disclose that they are being recorded.
* In your communication with your tenants, I wouldn't not use the term "security cameras." I suggest just using cameras. This just an extra safeguard for you. Again, this is to protect you from possible misperceptions or inflated expectations of security that you are/aren't providing.
One final suggestion: reach out to your insurance company and see if there are any discounts for security camera installation.
Thanks @Jason Insalaco ! I will use these recommendations. Someone broke into my tenant's car this week. My missions statement is to provide safe housing so I am going to install cameras.
My opinion is you don’t need to run it by the tenants. Install them and I personally would put up some signs since deturance is what you want. Very few (reasonably priced) security cameras can give good enough quality at night to positively ID someone. With as short handed as law enforcement is, there won’t be much effort put into finding someone who stole change from a car. From a legal standpoint, you are good. There is no expectation of privacy in a common area. Just make sure your not installing them in the bathrooms or into peoples homes. Lol. Anyone who has issues with you putting them up you don’t want.