Q&A: Common Hallway Camera in Condo

Q A neighbor down the hall from my condo apartment has installed a video camera over his doorway—presumably as a security measure. Our building has a doorman and double-locked vestibule, as well as security cameras in the lobby, so this seems redundant and invasive to me. I’m not comfortable with my neighbor—who I do not know well—monitoring the comings and goings in and out of my home. Is there a law against a tenant using a video camera in the common hallway? If so (or even if not), what can I do to compel my neighbor to cease his surveillance of our shared hallway?”

—Camera Shy

A “Several issues are posed by your situation. Initially, it must be noted that the asssociation, and not an individual association member, is responsible for the maintenance and safety of the association’s common areas,” says attorney Eric D. Brophy, a partner of the New Jersey-based law firm of Diegnan & Brophy, LLC. “This includes diminishing any dangers, which could include the physical safety and security of its members. A single member may not take on this responsibility him/herself.

“Here, it must first be determined whether or not the neighbor obtained permission to install the camera from the association’s board of trustees. If no permission was granted, the remedy is relatively simple. Notification to the board will typically resolve the problem in that the board will likely require that the neighbor remove the camera and/or impose fines for infringing on common areas without permission. Common areas are for the general use of each of the association’s members and their guests. With few exceptions, no member has a greater or lesser right to the use of common areas. Therefore, the neighbor’s installation of the camera could constitute a violation of the association’s bylaws, rules or regulations, subjecting him/her to penalties and fines. Most associations’ bylaws prohibit the exclusive use of common areas by one association member over other members. In such a case where no permission was granted, the board should take immediate action to enforce the bylaws, rules and/or regulations.

“The second issue posed is what to do if the board granted the neighbor permission to install the camera. This may pose a greater problem than a neighbor simply disobeying the association’s bylaws, rules or regulations. If the board granted such permission, the members may require the board to answer for its decision as it has, arguably, encumbered their collective property (i.e. the common areas are owned collectively by association members). If no reasonable explanation can be provided, the membership may be entitled to take action against the board and the neighbor to compel compliance with the bylaws, rules and/or regulations.

“In any of the above circumstances it is recommended that you consult with an attorney or firm, such as ours, who specializes in community association law in order to give a more detailed analysis based upon the specifics of your case.”

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2 Comments

  • I believe if there is à tangable reason for a tentant to install communial caméras in agreement with other tenants then it is his personel right to protect his dwelling by any necessary means with in his protection. Most burgulars break into properties and have human right to pretect his own safety. So why can not an individuel tenant have the right to prevent potential theives who May invaide ones space. If anything that tenant lends à hand to protecting. Other occupant in the building. And can have substainable evedence to detere any one from causing criminal damage. People are used to caméras. Hello big brother get Over it. If à death took place then the organisation would install one anyway. Whats the différence. Caméras should be aloud its part of out every day lives.
  • We have a similar situation where a homeowner has installed numerous cameras outside of their unit. There was no application to do so and it's against condo rules to attach anything to the outside of the unit. The owner used to be an attorney and has said he will fight (has lots of money to run up our HOA fees) this rule. Our board is hesitant to fight this but I think it sets a terrible precedent as now anyone can do what they want. But, what about the illegal recording on what is technically private property without anyone's nor the boards consent, is that illegal?