Can A Tenant Install Security System Without Landlord Permission? (2024)

With the US housing market hitting record highs in the past few years, the divide between property owners and those who wish to own property is widening. According to recent data from the National Association of Realtors, the current median housing price is at $419,300, up 5.8% from the previous year. This, coupled with a slumping economy, is making it difficult for millennials and Gen Zs to dip their toes in real estate.

Can A Tenant Install Security System Without Landlord Permission? (1)

Estimates show that there are about 109 million Americans renting homes, most of them younger and living alone. This makes them easy targets in the eyes of criminals. While it's common for rental homes--especially residential buildings--to have security measures in place, not all property owners have the means to put up robust security systems or install surveillance cameras at the very least as these are added costs on top of maintenance. Smart security cameras designed for DIY installation solve this issue for most renters. However, one can't just prop up a video doorbell camera in his front door as modifications to the property are still subject to the owner's approval and even local laws.

Why Tenants Need to Install Security Cameras

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Aside from the obvious security concerns, there are other reasons why tenants install security cameras inside and outside their homes.

  • Enhanced Safety and Security: Tenants often install cameras to bolster their sense of safety and security. The presence of security cameras can deter potential intruders and provide peace of mind.

  • Landlord Concerns: Tenants may feel the need to monitor their landlords or maintenance personnel who enter their apartments without prior notice. Surveillance cameras can document such entries, ensuring that tenants' privacy is respected.

  • Monitoring Suspicious Activities: Tenants install security cameras to keep an eye on suspicious activities, such as strangers loitering around the property or frequent visits by unknown individuals. This is particularly important in high-crime areas.

  • Protecting Personal Belongings: Installing security cameras can be crucial for tenants who have experienced theft or property damage. They provide valuable evidence to law enforcement and can aid in recovering stolen items.

  • Pet Monitoring: For tenants with pets, installing cameras can be a way to ensure their animals are safe and not disturbed when they are not at home. This can also prevent unauthorized entry by landlords or maintenance workers checking on pets.

  • Shared Spaces: In shared living situations, cameras can help resolve disputes between roommates regarding unauthorized access to personal spaces or tampering with belongings.

Apartment Security Camera Laws

Can A Tenant Install Security System Without Landlord Permission? (3)

In most regions, tenants are allowed to install security cameras inside their rented apartments, provided they do not damage the property and respect privacy laws. However, laws vary significantly by jurisdiction.

A lease agreement often contains clauses that may restrict or regulate the installation of security cameras. These clauses might require tenants to seek written permission from the landlord before installing any cameras, especially if the installation involves altering the property.

Is Installing Security Cameras Inside Legal for Tenants?

Tenants generally have the right to install security cameras inside their rental units. However, they must respect the privacy of any roommates and ensure the cameras do not capture footage of private areas where others have a reasonable expectation of privacy, such as bathrooms or bedrooms.

In the United States, privacy laws determine where you can install security cameras indoors, ensuring that individuals are not recorded in private areas without their consent. For example, California Penal Code §647 and §632 highlight the importance of obtaining consent before recording in private spaces.

Can a Tenant Install a Security Camera Outside?

Can A Tenant Install Security System Without Landlord Permission? (4)

Installing outdoor cameras in a rental property or apartment building presents unique challenges. Tenants must ensure they do not modify the exterior structure without landlord approval. Additionally, outdoor cameras must be positioned to avoid infringing on neighbors' privacy or capturing footage of areas beyond the tenant's property.

Tenants should also review local laws and lease agreements to understand any restrictions on security cameras. In many cases, written permission from the landlord is required for any modifications to the exterior of the building.

Places Where Tenants Can Install Security Cameras Outside

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Tenants can install cameras in areas that are within their control and do not infringe on common spaces or other tenants' privacy. Examples include:

  • Private Balconies: Tenants can monitor their private balconies to ensure they are safe from intruders.

  • Front Doors: Cameras can be installed to monitor the entrance to the tenant’s unit, capturing footage of anyone approaching the door.

When installing outdoor security cameras, it is crucial to position them so they do not capture footage of neighbors' private areas or shared spaces like hallways. This helps avoid potential legal issues and maintains good relations with neighbors.

Best Practices for Installing Security Cameras as a Tenant

Before you install security cameras in your rented property, consider these measures:

Notify Your Landlord

Informing the landlord about the installation of security device is crucial to avoid conflicts and ensure compliance with lease agreements. This step demonstrates respect for the landlord's property and can help secure their support.

Some useful tips:

  • Provide Written Notice: Send a detailed written request outlining the type and location of the cameras.

  • Explain the Purpose: Clearly state the reasons for installing the cameras, emphasizing safety and security.

  • Offer Assurances: Assure the landlord that the installation will not damage the property and that the cameras will be removed upon moving out.

Avoid Damaging the Property

To avoid damaging the property, tenants can use non-intrusive installation methods such as:

  • Adhesive Mounts: These mounts allow cameras to be attached to surfaces without drilling.

  • Freestanding Devices: Cameras that do not require permanent installation, such as those placed on shelves or furniture.

  • Magnetic Mounts: Useful for metal surfaces, magnetic mounts offer a non-permanent solution.

Non-permanent installations are generally more acceptable to landlords and can help avoid disputes over property damage.

The Best Security Cameras for Tenants

Cameras that are easy to install and remove are ideal for rental properties. Wi-Fi cameras that do not require hardwiring are particularly suitable. These wireless security cameras offer portability as they can be easily relocated as needed, making them a flexible option for renters.

If you're looking for a renter-friendly security camera, here are some suggestions:

Indoor Cameras

Arlo Essential Indoor Security Camera (2nd Gen)

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The Arlo Essential Indoor Security Camera (2nd Gen) is a compact, reliable option for tenants looking to enhance their indoor security. This camera offers several key features that make it an excellent choice for renters:

  • Compact Design and Easy Installation: The camera can sit on a shelf or be wall-mounted, providing flexibility in placement without the need for permanent modifications.

  • Privacy Shutter: When the camera is not in use, a privacy shutter comes down to ensure no footage is captured, addressing privacy concerns.

  • Clear Video Quality: The second-generation Essential Indoor cameras are available in two models: a 1080p camera and a pricier 2K model. Both offer detailed, blur-free footage with a frame rate of 24 fps.

  • Two-Way Audio: The built-in microphone and speaker allow for clear two-way communication, making it easy to interact with people or pets at home.

  • Cloud Storage: Video footage is stored in the cloud, ensuring that important recordings are safely backed up and accessible from anywhere.

  • App Functionality: The Arlo app is user-friendly, with features such as two-factor authentication for secure login and smart home integration with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and IFTTT.

  • Built-In Siren: The camera includes a built-in siren for added security, which can be triggered remotely if suspicious activity is detected.

Google Nest Cam (Wired, Indoor)

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The Google Nest Cam (Wired, Indoor) combines elegant design with robust security features, making it a stylish and functional choice for tenants:

  • Understated Style: Available in various finishes, including one with a maple wood base, the Nest Cam blends seamlessly with home decor.
  • High-Quality Video: The camera provides clear 1080p video with HDR at 30 fps, ensuring detailed footage. Night vision automatically activates in low-light conditions.
  • Two-Way Audio: The camera includes two-way audio, allowing for direct communication with anyone in the home.
  • Enhanced Security: Enforced two-factor authentication adds a layer of security to access the camera feed.
  • Accurate Detection: The Nest Cam can distinguish between people, animals, and vehicles, sending precise alerts to your device.
  • Integration with Google Home: The camera integrates seamlessly with the Google Home app and can be viewed on Nest displays or a Chromecast with Google TV. It also features a web interface for added convenience.
  • Subscription Options: Without a subscription, you get three hours of event history. A Nest Aware subscription ($8 per month or $80 per year) provides 30 days of event video history and familiar face alerts. This subscription covers all your Nest devices.
  • Familiar Face Recognition: Once familiar faces are tagged, notifications include their names, providing reassurance when family members arrive home and alerting you to unfamiliar visitors.

Outdoor Cameras

Wyze Cam v3

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The Wyze Cam v3 is an excellent budget-friendly option for outdoor home security. This full HD camera offers several features that make it a strong contender among affordable security cameras:

  • Clear Footage: The Wyze Cam v3 records high-definition video during both day and night. Its night vision is enhanced by a Starlight Sensor that provides full-color night recording.
  • Storage Options: The camera offers 14 days of free cloud storage and includes a Micro SD card slot for local storage, giving users flexibility without the need for a subscription.
  • Integrated Stand: Unlike many outdoor cameras, the Wyze Cam v3 has an integrated stand, so it doesn’t need to be mounted on a wall. However, it can be wall-mounted if preferred.
  • Weather Resistance: The camera is designed for outdoor use with an IP65 rating, making it weather-resistant and suitable for various outdoor conditions.
  • Power Requirements: The Wyze Cam v3 requires a power outlet, which may limit placement options outdoors, as it does not have a rechargeable battery.
  • Person Detection: While the camera has many useful features, person detection requires a monthly subscription. Additionally, during testing, the camera was found to be less reliable in detecting unusual sounds and motion.

Arlo Ultra 2

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The Arlo Ultra 2 is a high-end security camera designed for users who need detailed and reliable footage for large areas. Here are its standout features:

  • 4K Video Quality: The Arlo Ultra 2 records in 4K, ensuring that even the smallest details are visible. This is particularly useful for reading license plates or capturing clear images from a distance.
  • Day and Night Clarity: The camera provides clear and detailed footage in color during both day and night, thanks to its built-in LED light.
  • Extended Wi-Fi Range: The Arlo Ultra 2 supports both 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi bands, offering an increased range to reduce connectivity issues.
  • Smart Home Integration: The camera is compatible with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple HomeKit, allowing seamless integration into your smart home ecosystem.
  • Smart Features: It includes advanced features that help reduce the number of false alerts, ensuring that you only receive relevant notifications.
  • Subscription Requirements: To store video for later review and access advanced features, users need to subscribe to Arlo Secure. Local storage on a micro SD card is possible through the base station, but viewing these videos via the Arlo app is not supported.
  • Price Considerations: The Arlo Ultra 2 is a premium camera and comes with a higher price tag. For those seeking more affordable options, the Arlo Pro 3 or Arlo Pro 4, which record in 2K, may be suitable alternatives.

Ring Battery Doorbell Pro

Can A Tenant Install Security System Without Landlord Permission? (10)

The Ring Battery Doorbell Pro is an advanced video doorbell that combines convenience and high-tech features to enhance your home security:

  • Radar Technology: The built-in radar technology maps subjects and tracks their movements across your property, significantly reducing false motion alerts.
  • Removable Battery: The doorbell’s battery is removable, making recharging or swapping out the battery a simple process. This also allows for flexible installation locations without the need for wiring.
  • High-Resolution Camera: The camera captures sharp, high-resolution HD video, ensuring clear and detailed footage.
  • Flexible Installation: The Ring Battery Doorbell Pro supports both hardwired and battery-powered installations, providing flexibility based on your home’s setup.
Can A Tenant Install Security System Without Landlord Permission? (2024)
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