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“I SEE YOU”: Video Doorbells in Multifamily Buildings

note: This column was written by my colleague Donna Dimaggio Berger. Donna is a
Shareholder in the Florida law firm of Becker & Poliakoff and is the author
of the popular Community Association Law blog which can be found at
ww.communityassociationlawblog.com.  I
want to express my gratitude to Donna for allowing me to share this column with
our readers. 

Security concerns are
always at or near the top of the list of priorities in shared ownership
communities. With personal home technology evolving at a dizzying pace, many
homeowners are considering the installation of video doorbells such as those
offered by Ring or Nest. However, for owners living in private residential
communities, particularly in multifamily buildings, those owners may be subject
to advance association approval requirements under the terms of their governing
documents when it comes to installing the devices on their doors.

More and more owners wish
to install these devices, but some boards are reluctant to grant approval
(assuming their advance approval is required) for fear of encountering
complaints from other residents when the doorbell cameras may record the
comings and goings of neighbors, their guests, and other visitors and invitees,
like package deliveries, etc.

Video doorbells tend to
have a fixed viewing range, so it would be difficult to effectively argue that
they unreasonably invade the privacy of a neighbor. Their usefulness is limited
to seeing who is arriving at your door. If any portion of your neighbor’s unit
happens to be within range of your front door, an issue can arise inasmuch as
the neighbor does not want your video recording his or her visitors as well.
The desire for privacy is understandable but an owner has no reasonable
expectation of privacy outside his or her unit. Certainly, there is no
expectation of privacy on the common elements.

Given the benefits of
this technology and the growing popularity of same, it may make sense for a
board of directors to pass a rule which allows the installation of these
devices without making owners go through an individual approval process.
However, I would limit that approval to the doorbell video only and make the
installation of any additional cameras dependent upon advance board approval as
you don’t want owners installing additional cameras in locations that could be
deemed intrusive by others.

I would urge boards who
just don’t want to allow the devices for any particular reason to reconsider
their position. Preventing your owners from taking advantage of the security
benefits these devices offer could also subject the association and, possibly,
the board to potential liability. Simply put, when owners wish to take
advantage of technology for proper purposes, like security, it is better to
encourage rather than prohibit such behaviors.

Note:  CPCC is again offering its class this fall on
“The Essentials of Community Association Management.”  Successful completion of the course qualifies
students for the Certified Manager of Community Associations (CMCA) credential.  As mentioned in a previous column, there is a
huge demand for professional managers in today’s market. This is also an
excellent class for homeowners living or investing in properties that have a
POA or HOA.  Link to registration:  https://schedule.cpcc.edu/myschedule/show_sections/13364/


This column was originally published in the Home|Design section of the Charlotte Observer on August 10, 2019. © All rights reserved.

Author: Mike Hunter
Articles have been Reprinted with permission from the charlotte observer and Mike Hunter.

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