Being the owner of a rental property comes with many challenges. You’re not always sure if your tenants are going to pay their rent every time, if they are going to treat your investment property right, and if they are going to conduct illegal activities in your residence.
And, while thorough tenant screening does a lot to reduce these risks, nothing is guaranteed.
One concrete way of better protecting your Baltimore County rental property from things like theft and vandalism is to install security cameras on the property.
Many retail stores use security cameras on their properties as a way of protecting their business.
And, we always suggest you look to your rental property as a business.
However, there is some growing concern from tenants over the presence of security cameras, both outside and inside of your property.
That’s why today we are going to look at some of the most important things to consider before installing a security system, complete with cameras, on your Baltimore County rental property.
Can You Install Security Cameras on Your Baltimore Rental?
In short, yes you can install security cameras on your Baltimore rental property.
In Baltimore County, you are not allowed to install a visual surveillance camera in any areas considered private places without a person’s consent. This may include places such as dressing rooms, bathrooms, and bedrooms. The same rules also apply to still shots being captured via a camera.
In addition, you are prohibited from using a camera to spy on people inside of a private property. The only exception to this is if the area is being used to conduct business.
That said, you are allowed to legally install visible security cameras that monitor places such as your rental’s driveway, front and back doors, backyard areas, and garages. Any place that is considered a public place, where a reasonable expectation of privacy is not expected, you can monitor via video surveillance.
However, if you are secretly recording your tenants in any area, you may find yourself in some legal hot water.
Not only does Baltimore law forbid recording anyone without their consent within a private residence, most tenants have a reasonable expectation of privacy while in the home they are leasing from you.
As a result, most states have strict privacy laws in place to protect tenants from video surveillance within a property.
That’s why it is important to discuss surveillance laws with an experienced attorney before installing surveillance cameras on the inside of your rental.
In addition, it is important you discuss these things with your potential tenants before they sign a lease agreement with you.
Although you may have sufficient justifications for wanting to install security cameras on the inside of your rental home, outside security cameras should be enough when it comes to protecting your Baltimore County rental property.
What About Audio Recording?
Many security cameras come with audio recording as well.
However, most states have strict wiretapping laws in place preventing the secret audio recording of private conversations, such as the ones you would expect to take place within a rental property residence.
In addition, Baltimore County takes it one step further, and states that it is illegal to record conversations, regardless of where they are taking place, unless you have the consent of all involved parties.
Even if you decide to install security cameras on the outside of your rental property, which is legal to do, it is best you do so without capturing any audio.
Why Use Security Cameras?
There are plenty of benefits to using security cameras on your rental property, whether it is occupied or not.
Take a look at some of the best reasons why, despite the complex legalities you must familiarize yourself with, using a surveillance system is helpful:
- Monitor Nuisances. Loud parties, over-staying guests, and other disturbances on your property are easily caught on security camera footage. Since these activities can wreak havoc on your rental property business, or can be considered a breach of the signed lease agreement, having the proof it is happening can help protect you and your property.
- Unauthorized Maintenance Workers. There are plenty of stories floating around about suspicious maintenance workers spying on rentals so they can later burglarize them. If you use a Baltimore County property management company that has their own maintenance crew, there should be no other contractors entering your property without your consent. This is something video surveillance can capture as it happens.
- Vacancy Protection. When your property is vacant, it is vulnerable to theft and vandalism. Taking surveillance of your rental property can help deter or prosecute these activities. In addition, it helps reduce the costs associated with vacant property issues, such as property damage, theft, or illegal use of the residence.
Altogether, using security cameras in your Baltimore rental property can be a good idea.
If you are looking to add security cameras to your rental property, and need some help in dealing with the legal issues surrounding both visual and audio surveillance, enlist the help of Bay Management Group.
Experienced and knowledgeable about all rental property housing laws, including those related to video surveillance, we can help ensure you are not breaking any Baltimore County laws with your security camera system.
In addition, we help protect your property in other ways by conducting thorough tenant screening, routine inspections, and drafting airtight lease agreements strictly outlining what is, and is not, allowed during your tenant’s stay.
Let us help you keep the peace of mind that your investment property is safe from things such as theft, vandalism, and structural damage so that you can enjoy the better parts of being a Baltimore County property owner.