Ask Member Support: tenant use of surveillance cameras
One of the tenants in our building has recently installed a camera for what they consider to be security purposes. They have expressed that they have felt unsafe due to other tenants’ activities. Some of the other tenants have expressed discomfort with the camera and have asked our building management to have the camera removed. What are our rights as a landlord in this scenario? Can we ask the tenant to remove their camera?
Issues regarding camera use, by landlords or tenants, are fairly common. There have been a number of cases on this very issue that have been heard at the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB) in recent years.
The fact is that tenants have the right to install a camera within their own property as long as it is being used for legitimate purposes (i.e. to monitor or mitigate security concerns). When tenants complain about their neighbours’ use of surveillance cameras, they are typically concerned about their own privacy or feel that the cameras are being used as part of a campaign of ongoing harassment or as an intimidation tactic. Depending on the context, some privacy concerns may be mitigated with proper signage alerting individuals to the fact that they are being recorded, but, as in most conflict scenarios, allegations of harassment and intimidation tend to be much more complicated.
It’s important to look at the whole context of the conflict before assigning a solution. Ask:
- Why did the tenant install the camera in the first place?
- If the camera was installed for safety/security purposes, are their issues in the building/with other tenants that prompted this action?
- What reasons do the tenants who object to the presence of the camera have for doing so?
- Are their objections reasonable (i.e.: is there evidence of the camera being used for harassment/intimidation)?
If there is evidence to indicate that a tenant’s surveillance camera is being used to intimidate or harass other tenants, thereby becoming an impediment to their reasonable enjoyment, we suggest that you begin by issuing a removal order for the camera. If the tenant refuses, you may have grounds to take them to the LTB to obtain a removal order or, barring another solution, to file an eviction notice.
In situations where a tenant’s use of a camera vs. others’ right to reasonable enjoyment aren’t so clear-cut, an application can be made to the LTB. Recent cases heard at the LTB weigh the aspects of the situation carefully. In some cases, a tenant’s use of a surveillance camera is clearly part of an ongoing campaign of intimidation/harassment and the camera is ordered to be removed. In other cases, it is found that the tenant using the camera has legitimate safety concerns and/or there is no strong evidence that their camera is an impediment to others’ reasonable enjoyment of the premises.
If you wish to avoid this issue all together, you may consider adding a clause to leases that restrict the use of tenant surveillance cameras within your properties for future tenancies.
Have questions about this topic or another privacy issue? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re always happy to hear from you, and to help!