The homeowners' association's (HOA) attorney represents the HOA as an entity. The HOA is separate...
Before installing a security camera in a homeowners’ association community, homeowners and associations should consider federal, state, and local laws, as well as the community’s governing documents. In the last decade, security cameras have become smaller, less expensive, and easier to use increasing their popularity with homeowners and businesses but their installation should not be done without consideration.
Can Homeowners Install Security Cameras?
Homeowners who live in an HOA community may want to install a security camera to monitor their property. However, homeowners should be aware that their HOA’s governing documents may limit their ability to install cameras. Almost every HOA has a section in its governing documents that require owners to obtain approval before making improvements or changes to the exterior of their property, which may include the installation of a security camera.
Further, any homeowner planning to install a security camera should be aware of their neighbors’ reasonable expectation of privacy. A reasonable expectation of privacy means that homeowners may not position their cameras so that they record the backyards or interiors of their neighbors’ homes. Homeowners should consult with their association to ensure that they adhere to all relevant rules and guidelines before installing a camera.
Can HOAs Install Security Cameras?
Associations are usually not required to install security cameras in common areas. However, if the association decides to install security cameras or the homeowners request cameras, an HOA lawyer can help the association review aspects of security camera usage that can protect both the association and the homeowners.
Before installing security cameras, an association should:
- Create a written policy indicating who will review the footage and when they will review it.
- Notify homeowners of the camera policy.
- Ensure that footage is never stored or viewed on a personal computer.
The association’s security camera policy should be put in writing and homeowners should be made aware of the policy. The association can share the policy with homeowners by posting a physical notice or posting it on an online community forum. Homeowners need to be aware of the policy so no one is under the impression that the camera feed is constantly monitored. Further, the association should ensure that the footage is stored professionally and that no one can access the footage privately or from their personal computer. A policy regarding storage and access can help protect homeowners’ privacy. Consulting the association’s lawyer will help associations navigate any issues associated with installing security cameras.