For many Florida condo owners, one of the main reasons why they chose to live in a condominium community instead of a single family home is because of the sense of greater security. There is safety in numbers, of course.
Condominium associations as well as property managers have a responsibility to make sure that residents are safe and secure in their homes as well as in their use of the common areas. These are duties provided both by Florida Condo Law as well as the particular provisions of the documents controlling the condominium.
Advanced Security Technology Is Cost-Efficient for Condo Boards
However, as technology advances rapidly in the 21st Century, there is an ability of a Condo Board and a property manager to provide security in ways that may never have been foreseen at the time that the condominium documents were drafted or Florida condominium laws were passed.
Florida condo owners are seeing visual monitoring being set up in more and more places within their community: from elevators, to parking garage levels, to common areas like pools, spas, and tennis courts.
Whether those cameras are being fed to a live monitoring station (say the guard in the entry point guard house) or it they are merely recording events without a human watching what is happening will depend upon the financial investment and wherewithal of the particular condominium association.
Privacy Concerns of Condo Owners Over Condo Security
1. Condo Boards Should Not Act as “Big Brother”
Today, condo owners also have a concern that the need to provide a secure environment has become an excuse for some Condo Powers-that-Be to spy and monitor activities in unacceptable and even in illegal ways.
In a lot of circumstances, the response to these concerns (concerns about technological advances allowing managers and board members to spy on residents) are usually based upon budget issues: it is much cheaper and more effective to install security cameras than it is to hire more security guards.
These video recordings, which are made as part of the condominium’s operations, should be considered a part of the condo’s Official Records. Any condo owner who has an issue with the video surveillance being undertaken should follow the appropriate procedures and request access to and view the videos.
If there are concerns about privacy, then a Florida condo lawyer should be contacted so he or she can evaluate whether or not an owner’s privacy rights are being violated.
2. Condo Owners Spying On Each Other
These modern technological advances in securing property from crime or other hazards (fire, for instance) are not limited to commercial models. Individual condo owners have the opportunity today to purchase all sorts of security devices to keep their homes and cars safe. Some of these even provide off-site access (like nanny cams) as well as off-site control (turning lights, cameras, etc., off and on via a smartphone).
Most condominium associations will have no control and probably no concern over an individual condo owner installing these security technologies within their unit. It is their home, after all: if the condo owner wants to turn on their living room lights from their phone as they leave the office, then they have the right to do so.
However, Florida law does require the condo unit owner to obtain approval from their Condo Board if their security cameras will be able to video any common areas or shared space. For instance, placing your personal camera equipment on your balcony to protect against burglary of your unit through the balcony access is fine. If that camera is going to capture movement on neighboring balconies, or condo walkways, etc., then the Condo Board must approve the installation of this camera.
Condo owners may have some privacy concerns if their neighbor’s security camera is trained not just on the owner’s front door, but also toward common areas or walkways. Unit owners with cameras that pick up parking garage traffic, or grab video of activities in condo windows or balconies can indeed infringe upon the privacy rights of condo owners and their guests.
Whether or not this is inadvertent surveillance or intentional spying upon fellow condo owners depends upon the situation, and once again, a Florida condo lawyer can evaluate these concerns to identify any possible privacy right violations.
About the author
Larry Tolchinsky is a Partner at Sackrin & Tolchinsky, P.A., a South Florida law firm that covers a full range of legal matters for their clients. Larry has been practicing law in Broward County Florida since 1994. His areas of practice include Real Estate Law, Probate and Business transactions. Larry can be contacted through his firm's online form or by phone at (954) 458-8655.