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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2020
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    Default Surveillance in Common Area

    My question involves landlord-tenant law in the State of: Pennsylvania

    just want to preface this by saying that I looked into this a little bit which is why I'm being somewhat specific.

    So I'm in the shared housing situation. We all have our own room but we have two bathrooms that are shared and a kitchen / laundry room. Landlord has three cameras outside on the entrances of the house that all record audio.

    She wants to put a camera in kitchen / laundry room. She won't say if it can record audio and won't promise not to record audio though she claims she won't. We of course know that that's a lie.

    In the renters agreement there is a line sitting she has the right to record audio. I have the feeling she wrote it herself.

    So the reason she wants to put a camera in the kitchen is to monitor cleanliness. Now there are two things that I to understand might be a problem. First off is that she wants to record video in a room that has a washer and dryer to which my understanding that laundry rooms protected in the same way a bathroom is protected from surveillance. Secondly she won't tell me whether or not the device will record audio which from my understanding she has to disclose that.

    I was wondering if anyone could shed some light on whether or not my conclusions are correct.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
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    3,805

    Default Re: Surveillance in Common Area

    Quote Quoting Jesmo
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    My question involves landlord-tenant law in the State of: Pennsylvania

    just want to preface this by saying that I looked into this a little bit which is why I'm being somewhat specific.

    So I'm in the shared housing situation. We all have our own room but we have two bathrooms that are shared and a kitchen / laundry room. Landlord has three cameras outside on the entrances of the house that all record audio.

    She wants to put a camera in kitchen / laundry room. She won't say if it can record audio and won't promise not to record audio though she claims she won't. We of course know that that's a lie.

    In the renters agreement there is a line sitting she has the right to record audio. I have the feeling she wrote it herself.

    So the reason she wants to put a camera in the kitchen is to monitor cleanliness. Now there are two things that I to understand might be a problem. First off is that she wants to record video in a room that has a washer and dryer to which my understanding that laundry rooms protected in the same way a bathroom is protected from surveillance. Secondly she won't tell me whether or not the device will record audio which from my understanding she has to disclose that.

    I was wondering if anyone could shed some light on whether or not my conclusions are correct.

    Dumb move: Signing an agreement that allowed her to record anything.
    Smart move: Move.

    Why would a common laundry room be protected like a bathroom?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
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    47.606 N 122.332 W in body, still at 90 S in my mind.
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    Default Re: Surveillance in Common Area

    Generally I'd say that the LL has no right to record anything within the confines of the space that you lease...but what, precisely, are you leasing, the house, just one room of the house? If it's the house I'd say the LL has no right to have any cameras. If you lease a room and and the common spaces are common to all tenants then I'd say you have no expectation of privacy in any common space except the bathroom. I also don't know why you'd think that the LL has to notify you of any cameras that are put up.

    As noted above, by agreeing to the lease, which permitted the LL to record audio, you may have tied your hands to prevent it. May.

    I'd move at the earliest opportunity and until then I'd behave as if I'm being watched and eavesdropped on at all times.
    "Where do those stairs go?"
    "They go up!"

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2020
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    2

    Default Re: Surveillance in Common Area

    Thanks for the advice. Some legal advice websites were talking about laundry room being a no surveillance zone.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
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    47.606 N 122.332 W in body, still at 90 S in my mind.
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    Default Re: Surveillance in Common Area

    Quote Quoting Jesmo
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    Thanks for the advice. Some legal advice websites were talking about laundry room being a no surveillance zone.
    If it's in the bathroom, sure.
    "Where do those stairs go?"
    "They go up!"

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    17,777

    Default Re: Surveillance in Common Area

    Quote Quoting Jesmo
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    I was wondering if anyone could shed some light on whether or not my conclusions are correct.
    They aren't. For one thing you signed a rental agreement that specifically allows her to record audio. If there is no restriction on where, then she can record audio anywhere in the house, including bathrooms, bedrooms and laundry rooms. Even without that prior consent she could still record audio in areas where you have no expectation of privacy. Note that the statute has it's own definition so "I expect privacy when I'm sitting on the couch watching TV" doesn't count. Doing one's laundry is a toss up but your consent covers that.

    PA CS Title 18 - Crimes and Offenses - Chapter 57 - Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance.

    5703. Interception, disclosure or use of wire, electronic or oral communications.
    Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, a person is guilty of a felony of the third degree if he:
    (1) intentionally intercepts, endeavors to intercept, or procures any other person to intercept or endeavor to intercept any wire, electronic or oral communication;

    5704. Exceptions to prohibition of interception and disclosure of communications.
    It shall not be unlawful and no prior court approval shall be required under this chapter for:
    (4) A person, to intercept a wire, electronic or oral communication, where all parties to the communication have given prior consent to such interception.

    5702. Definitions
    "Oral communication." Any oral communication uttered by a person possessing an expectation that such communication is not subject to interception under circumstances justifying such expectation.

    You can read the full statutes at:

    https://law.justia.com/codes/pennsyl...18/chapter-57/

    With regard to video see 7507.1 Invasion of Privacy

    https://law.justia.com/codes/pennsyl...ection-7507-1/

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
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    2,213

    Default Re: Surveillance in Common Area

    Quote Quoting Jesmo
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    Landlord has three cameras outside on the entrances of the house that all record audio.
    I assume this means that they record audio in addition to video. Correct? How is it that you know what the cameras record (or that they record anything at all)? How long does the landlord keep the recordings?


    Quote Quoting Jesmo
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    She wants to put a camera in kitchen / laundry room. She won't say if it can record audio and won't promise not to record audio though she claims she won't. We of course know that that's a lie.
    You can believe it to be a lie, but you cannot know any such thing. I'm also having a tough time perceiving a meaningful difference between "claiming" and "promising" in this context.

    By the way, does your landlord live in the home with you? If not, how does she purport to have the right to install cameras in the residence? Does the lease only provide that each tenant has the right to occupy his/her bedroom and only has a license to use the common areas of the house?


    Quote Quoting Jesmo
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    In the renters agreement there is a line sitting she has the right to record audio. I have the feeling she wrote it herself.
    Doesn't much matter who wrote it. You signed it, right?


    Quote Quoting Jesmo
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    First off is that she wants to record video in a room that has a washer and dryer to which my understanding that laundry rooms protected in the same way a bathroom is protected from surveillance.
    Where or from whom did you acquire this understanding?


    Quote Quoting Jesmo
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    Secondly she won't tell me whether or not the device will record audio which from my understanding she has to disclose that.
    Where or from whom did you acquire this understanding?


    Quote Quoting Jesmo
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    I was wondering if anyone could shed some light on whether or not my conclusions are correct.
    If you're referring to the two "understandings" you mentioned (neither of which is a conclusion), I know of nothing that would support either of them being true.

    Quote Quoting Jesmo
    View Post
    Some legal advice websites were talking about laundry room being a no surveillance zone.
    Which ones? Can you provide links?

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