Using Cameras as a Safety Tool: A Legal Perspective

Your computer's camera may be an effective tool for thwarting criminals, but know the legal boundaries of video surveillance.

September 12, 2011

Encountering complete strangers is a daily event for many real estate practitioners. This is especially true at open houses, where people are able to come in and out of the property without any prior relationship or introduction.

Thankfully, there are ways you can create a safer and more secure working environment during open houses. Using easy and inexpensive technology—a laptop computer with a video camera or digital monitoring system—you can potentially ward off intruders with bad intentions and capture criminal activity. 

Keep the following things in mind, though, before adding video surveillance technology to your arsenal of safety tools:

Obtain the owner’s consent. Get the property owner’s written permission before you set up video surveillance.

Disclosure. A sign should be clearly posted informing anyone entering the property that video surveillance is being conducted. Those who choose to enter the property after being provided such notice are giving their implied consent. 

Privacy Concerns. The law generally recognizes that a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy, which would prevent your conducting video surveillance in a private area, such as a bathroom. Make sure your strategy does not overstep these boundaries.

Check local and state laws. Laws on video surveillance differ. Do your research, or contact a lawyer that specializes in this topic.

Many practitioners are already using their computer’s video capabilities to shoot short introductory or educational videos for prospects. Why not make the technology your ally in the daily practice of staying safe on the job?