Business and Trade

Security Cameras in Condo Buildings:

Necessary Safety Precaution or Invasion of Privacy?

Anytime surveillance cameras are placed in a public space, there’s a question that arises: “Does the security of all outweigh our individual right to privacy?”.

It’s a question that condo boards and management companies have been grappling with for years, as they have attempted to find a happy medium between condominium security and the personal rights of their tenants.

While many believe that extensive video surveillance is the only way to protect condo residents from criminal wrongdoing, others aren’t as convinced.

So, are security cameras in condo buildings a violation of privacy? Or are they simply a safety measure that must be taken?

Let’s take a closer look at this debate.

The Argument Against Video Surveillance

In a 2014 study, 1 in every 3 Canadians stated they were “extremely concerned” about their personal privacy. In another study, 89.1 per cent of Canadians said they felt all surveillance activities should require a warrant approved by a judge.

These stats are significant and show just how apprehensive Canadians are about how their privacy is being protected.

Then there is the fact that video footage can be tampered with or misused by those who gather it. This idea, alone, is enough to make most people feel uncomfortable.

Whether it’s out in public while shopping or in the hallway of a residential building, we all want to enjoy peace of mind. The problem is that we never truly know if CCTV footage will be used to our benefit or used against us.

The Argument For Video Surveillance

While we don’t always know who is using video surveillance footage or what they intend to do with it, we do know that there are many instances where security cameras have benefitted citizens around the world.

Some statistics that support the benefit of surveillance cameras include:

  • After the city of Baltimore installed cameras in the Greenmount neighbourhood as part of a public safety geospatial data surveillance program, crime declined by an average of 13 fewer incidents per month.
  • Placing security cameras in residential parking lots has been shown to reduce crime by as much as 51 per cent.
  • Residential properties without security cameras are 300 per cent more likely to be broken into.

With these hard-hitting figures in mind, it becomes more difficult to rule out the use of security cameras in residential areas.

What Tenants Should Know About Security Cameras in Condo Buildings

Now that we’ve evaluated the pros and cons of security cameras in general, it’s important to take a more narrow focus and discuss condominium security, specifically.

Condominium residents who are concerned about their individual privacy being invaded will likely be reassured to know that all residential buildings in Canada are subject to legal restrictions and requirements that protect their best interests.

Below are some quick facts about condo security cameras for renters and owners:

  • The Canadian Condominium Act states that condo boards must send a notice to owners describing the addition, alteration or improvement of security cameras, as well as the estimated cost and how it will be paid.
  • All condominiums are encouraged to create a condo security camera policy. These policies typically state that cameras are only permitted in common areas (hallways, parkades, stairwells, etc.) and that cameras should never be positioned where they can view the interior of a unit, inside a public bathroom, or any other private space.
  • It is also advised that signage be installed in common areas to inform tenants and guests they are being filmed.
  • According to the Personal Information and Protection Act, Video surveillance should only be accessed or used in response to incidents of crime (e.g. vandalism, theft), safety concerns or other compelling circumstances.
  • Only authorized persons should have access to condo security camera equipment or the footage it contains.
  • According to FOIP Guidelines and Best Practices, should be used only where conventional means for achieving the same objectives are substantially less effective than surveillance and the benefits of surveillance substantially outweigh any reduction of privacy.

If you feel that your condo building security measures are in violation of the requirements above and your board has not responded to your concerns, you may need to work with a third-party mediator to address the issue.

Final Thoughts

Unfortunately, there is no clear answer to the debate between privacy in condo buildings and the necessity of security surveillance. Parties on both sides of the argument have valid concerns.

The ideal solution requires compromise and evaluating situations on a case-by-case basis.

Ultimately, condo building security benefits all who reside in a condominium community. But the pursuit of security and safety should never disregard an individual’s right to privacy.

Always know your rights and hold your condo association accountable if you suspect they are violating tenants in any way.

Are you looking for a condo management company that has the expertise required to help you navigate major concerns and advise you on key decisions? Contact us today we are experienced condominium management company. Our team of specialized professionals are industry leaders you can depend on.

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