Homeowners’ Associations & Surveillance Cameras
As attorneys who regularly advise and represent homeowners’ associations here in Florida, we frequently receive questions about the balance between what homeowners can do with and without the approval of the homeowners’ association; for example, whether they can install surveillance cameras outside of their homes and/or in common areas. While security is of course a concern for a number of homeowners, homeowners’ associations must also look out for the privacy concerns of all owners, which leads to the balancing that must be done by the association and their attorney(s).
The General Rules
As a general rule, only the homeowners’ association can install anything in common areas. In addition, for owners to be able install anything such as security cameras outside of their own homes, they should always look at their bylaws and declarations first to see what these documents indicate. They are usually drafted by homeowners’ association attorneys and are very specific as to what owners must first obtain approval for when it comes to exterior changes.
Getting Approval for Installing Surveillance Cameras Outside of One’s Home
A surveillance camera is most likely going to be included in this list, whereby a failure to first obtain written approval before installing – even outside of one’s own home – could result in legal issues. And if the association does ultimately provide approval for the camera, they are going to need to make sure that they include the proper restrictions that protect neighbors’ privacy; as well as any other restrictions that ensure that there won’t be a ‘nuisance’ created; for example, motion sensitive exterior lights being triggered by the camera, for example. In addition to having to look out for privacy, associations must also be cognizant of nuisance issues and ensure that no one owner uses their property in such a way as to disturb the peace, quiet, and comfort of other owners.
Asking The Association To Put Up Cameras For Safety
Also note that it is never going to be the duty of the association to install surveillance cameras like these unless there are safety and security issues; such as a known history of criminal activity in a common area. For example, if a homeowner approaches the association in response to recent criminal activity and asks it to install cameras, the association must first consult their attorney before moving forward and responding. Similarly to the concerns that apply when individual owners want to set up cameras outside of their own residence, anything like this that is installed must be done so carefully so as to not violate any homeowners’ privacy. In addition, the attorney can also inform the association regarding whether any additional notifications are necessary, such as signs, or notices of hearings to inform and gather feedback from other homeowners first.
Ultimately, if surveillance cameras are installed and common areas, the board should also adopt a written policy that addresses the following, at a minimum:
- What will happen with any footage that is created;
- Who will have access to that footage and under what circumstances it will be turned over to law-enforcement; and
- How long will recordings be kept before being destroyed.
Reach Out to Us Today for Help
Our Tampa homeowners’ association attorneys have provided knowledgeable legal advice and representation to a number of associations throughout Florida. Contact us at HD Law Partners today to find out more.