Updated July 22, 2022
Security systems have grown in popularity over the past few years. In fact, according to the 2022 State of Safety report, 62% of Americans use at least one type of security system to protect their homes. With security cameras becoming more affordable for consumers and available everywhere, the low-cost investment compared to the benefit of peace of mind that a security system brings is a no-brainer. Protecting your property, investment, and those who inhabit it, is of the utmost importance and installing a security system contributes to this goal as a property owner.
The real question becomes “can a landlord install security cameras on a property inhabited by tenants?” In this article, we discuss the role of security cameras and systems in the landlord/tenant relationship.
What Landlords Need To Know About Installing Security Cameras
The short answer is, yes, it is legal to install security cameras at a tenant-occupied property. However, it is important to understand that there are some areas you cannot install security cameras or systems as it infringes on the tenant’s right to a reasonable expectation of privacy. Let’s discuss where a landlord can and where they cannot install security cameras on the property inhabited by a tenant.
Where To Legally Install Security Cameras And Systems
The question of whether or not landlords can put cameras in common areas remains somewhat of a puzzle for some. We define common vs. private areas more here. For the most part, any landlord that is interested in installing security cameras on their property can safely install them outdoors on the property as it’s deemed acceptable. If you own an apartment building, you are able to utilize these systems in the public hallways of the building.
In addition, the cameras must be installed in a position where they are visible and not hidden. If you are a landlord or property manager that has decided to install security cameras on the property, it is best practice to add this notice into the initial lease agreement to ensure transparency with the tenant.
Where Landlords Cannon Install Security Cameras And Systems
Any interior locations of the physical dwelling. Bathrooms, bedrooms, toilets, and any indoor private areas as these would be areas where a person is deemed to have a reasonable expectation of privacy. As a best practice, landlords should stay away from installing security cameras or systems anywhere physically in the residence.
Installation Tips For Rental Property Alarm Systems
Installation by a reputable company is fast and efficient and usually just requires installing sensors at doors and windows, plus the control panel. Most of the time, you can even choose the area where the control panel will be located.
If your tenant is the one who has approached you about installing a security system, and you agree, make sure you do some research on the installation company and outline the conditions for installation.
You may even want to be present during the installation to answer questions and veto any excessive actions, just as you might do with another type of installation, like a satellite dish.
Lease Agreement And Addendums
If you are having a security system installed, always include language in the lease agreement or include a lease addendum that states the conditions of use for the system. The wording should cover the rules about the access code, who is responsible for excessive false alarms and any penalties thereof, and any information about damage or dismantling of the system.
Keep in mind, that a well-worded addendum can eliminate a lot of misinformation and miscommunication on the part of the tenant when it comes to operating the security system effectively.
Security Camera Best Practices For Landlords
Knowing what is and what is not acceptable when installing security cameras on your rental property can help you avoid potential legal trouble along with keeping your property and tenants safe! Remember, the primary purpose of installing security cameras on your property is to protect your investment and those who inhabit it. Always remember to follow these best practices!
- Notify tenant of cameras by including them in the lease agreement
- Make sure that cameras are fully visible when installed
- Do NOT install security cameras anywhere indoors on the property.
- Respect the tenant’s “reasonable expectation of privacy”
Top Benefits Of Security Systems
Security systems are affordable, and convenient and can be a significant factor in keeping your property and your tenant safe from harm. Here are just a few benefits of a security system in your rental property:
- Prospective tenants may see this amenity as one more wonderful thing about your rental property.
- Even in the best of neighborhoods, a security system can help tenants feel safer.
- Extremely fast alerts to first responders in the event of a break-in or fire, reducing the risk of damage to your property.
- Many security systems provide stickers for windows or discreet signs that you can put near the door or ground-floor window to deter burglars and vandals.
Best Home Security Cameras For Your Rental In 2022
We’ve put together a list of the best security systems for your rental property this year. Check out our suggestions below. Please note, that we are using affiliate links within the text.
Ring Stick Up Camera
Who Should Use This: This option is great for those looking for a wide view of their property. View the product video here.
Field Of View: The camera allows for a 130˚ field of view coming in at around 1080P resolution the Ring Stick Up Camera is a prime option for any landlord looking to keep an eye on their property.
Resolution: 1080p HD
Battery Life: The battery life of the Ring Stick Up camera can last from 6-12 months.
Things To Note: This camera comes with a night vision feature.
Common Comparisons & Compatibilities: The Ring Stick Up camera is compatible with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, IFTTT, and Yes. Out of the three cameras listed here, the person, package, and motion detection features are superior.
Starting Price: $99
Purchase Ring Stick Up: https://amzn.to/3B5ccJ4
Blink Outdoor Wireless
Who Should Use This: Great for the busiest landlords because of its outstanding 2-year battery life! View the product video here.
Field Of View: The Blink Outdoor Wireless camera has a 110° field of view which is fair compared to other competitor cameras.
Battery Life: Runs for up to 2 years with just a few triple a batteries.
Things To Note: Looking at similar products across the industry, one setback is that this device requires a Blink Home Monitor receiving device to be set up in order for the camera to function. Overall, still, a great option when it comes to a security camera for your property! This camera comes with a night vision feature.
Common Comparisons & Compatibilities: The Blink Outdoor Wireless camera is compatible with Alexa-enabled devices. There are motion detection notifications however, no person detection or package detection which is a downside to this product.
Starting Price: $99
Purchase Blink Outdoor Wireless: https://amzn.to/3cAjnyI
The Arlo Essential camera is another great option for outdoor security cameras!
Who Should Use This: For those landlords looking to not just keep an eye on tenants, but their property. This camera offers a range of motion detections including “person, vehicle, animals” and more. View the product video here.
Field Of View: The 130° field of view allows for a superb capture area when monitoring the property.
Resolution: 1080p HD
Battery Life: The device is powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that is rated to last up to 6 months.
Things To Note: This camera does not require a control hub to function and has a sharp 1080p video quality. The downside here is that you need to take the whole camera down to charge and the battery is nonremovable. This camera comes with a night vision feature.
Common Comparisons & Compatibilities: The Arlo Essential is compatible with Amazon Alexa, Samsung SmartThings devices, and Google devices.
Starting Price: $99
Purchase Arlo Essential: https://amzn.to/3cBJipx
FAQs: Security Systems & Tenant’s Peaceful Enjoyment
Here are the top questions from landlords on how and when to install security systems on a rental property.
Can I Set An Access Code On The Cameras?
It’s tough to find a balance between the landlord’s right to access the property legally and the tenant’s right to have privacy and peaceful enjoyment. However, most landlords will insist upon having the alarm system access code so they can enter the property as needed without triggering the alarms.
Some tenants will be fine with this since you also have keys to the property, so an access code isn’t much different. Other tenants may resist or feel like you don’t need the code because you shouldn’t ever be entering without their permission.
Remember State Laws: Most states have clearly defined the conditions that the landlord can enter the property. For example in California, the landlord can only enter during an emergency, when the tenant gives permission or after giving reasonable written notice. As long as you are compliant with your state’s laws about entry, the tenant can’t deny that entry.
Refusal Of Entry: Refusing to allow an alarm access code can significantly interfere with your rights of legal entry. If you are installing the security system, you will be able to program the access code. If you are allowing your tenant to do so with your permission, make sure the tenant clearly understands that you need to be provided with the code for access.
Should I Set Up Alarm Triggers?
A properly installed security system will send a message to emergency responders when it is activated. Whether it’s a home invasion, fire and or other security issue, emergency responders will attempt communication with the occupant to determine whether the emergency is real or else they may also arrive on the scene quickly.
False Alarm Triggers: While everyone accidentally triggers a security system once or twice, a long, shrieking alarm can cause headaches for everyone involved. A loud alarm can disrupt the neighbors and too many instances may violate the noise nuisance ordinances for the municipality.
False alarms also waste the valuable time and resources of emergency responders and may affect their ability to respond to a real emergency. Too many false alarms could equal fines or other penalties and many cities have outlined consequences for excessive emergency calls.
For example, in Atlanta, Georgia, approximately 65,000 security and alarm systems were activated in 2012, and 95 percent of those were false alarms. The city enacted an ordinance that requires homeowners to register their alarms with emergency services or face a fine. The city now also charges homeowners a $50 penalty for the second false alarm, and fines increase after that for every new false alarm.
Using A Security System For Rentals
As a landlord, make sure you go over the security system with the tenant upon moving in to reduce the risk of false alarms. It might be helpful to create a document that outlines how to set up and disarm the system for the first few weeks until the tenant gets used to it.