Today we will cover a very important topic, which is the legal frame of video surveillance in Massachusetts.
You ought to be well informed before you take a step towards protecting your property, so as not to interfere with somebody else’s privacy.
Here is a short text outlining the laws affecting condo owners in MA.
The Massachusetts Privacy Act, MGL c. 214, sec. 1B provides that individuals have a “right against unreasonable, substantial or serious interference with his privacy” and the widespread use of camera phones has spurred another look at the legality of video surveillance. In general, a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy within their residence, but individuals living in condominium units can only assert their privacy rights within their units and not in common areas within the condominium building, such as the hallways.
Condominium unit owners are subject to MGL c. 183A, and the condominium’s governing documents (Master Deed, Declaration of Trust, Rules and Regulations). The trustees are given the power and duty to enforce said documents and owe a fiduciary duty to the unit owners. The trustees are also charged with maintaining the common areas. In this case, due to the presence of intruders in common areas on the property, it is reasonable that the trustees would want to take measures to protect the unit owners from clearly foreseeable criminal activity, including the installation of security cameras, and monitor when individuals enter and exit the building.
The law is murky when it comes to another unit owner making the unilateral decision to install a security camera that records activity in the common area, and is the only unit owner with access to the same. A unit owner is unlikely to have the right, pursuant to the condominium documents, to install a camera that is located in the common area without support from the trustees. However, the unit owner is entitled to install a security camera within his unit as long as the camera only records video and not audio. Mass. Gen. Laws c. 272, § 99 prohibits secret video recording when sound is captured.
The fact that the camera captures your comings and goings is likely not enough to elevate into a breach of your right to privacy. Living in a condominium means you should have less expectations of privacy in areas that are in joint control of the unit owners and/or are publicly accessible, such as you’re in the hallway, than in the rest of your home. The security camera captures you walking in a hallway and does not record your front door or have a chance of capturing inside your unit where you have a reasonable expectation to a right to privacy. The unit owner appears to be taking reasonable steps to monitor the hallways and prevent strangers from lurking there. So long as the condominium documents do not have an express provision restricting the installation of security cameras, the unit owner is likely within his purview to do so.
So, there you have it ladies and gentleman. If you have any further questions on the subject of video sruveillance laws in Massachusetts, post your question in the comment section bellow, and we’ll answer it.
Until next article, stay safe.