Installing Security Cameras In Florida Condo Associations
More and more often nowadays, community associations are installing security cameras in common areas, in order to combat potential criminal acts (for example, vandalism) or negligent behavior. However, an association cannot simply install them – Florida case law holds that to install cameras is a ‘material or substantial alteration’ to the common areas, and the proposal must go through the proper channels before the cameras can be put to use.
In general, an association interested in installing security cameras must first consult its governing documents to see if member approval for such a proposition is necessary. However, even if the documents do not give a definitive answer, Florida state law holds that at least 75 percent of the ‘voting interests’ must approve the change for it to go through, which is not easy to obtain in many associations. If the owners or renters disapprove, the board cannot simply go ahead.
In addition to winning the approval of the voting interests, a community association must also be willing to take on responsibility for actually providing security – in other words, the cameras cannot be the single tool available to prevent potential criminal activity. An association must be ready for the possibility that if, say, a violent crime occurred on the premises, the presence of the cameras could be used to show that a duty to protect existed, and that it was breached.
After Permission Is Obtained
Even after the cameras are approved, it is still important to be aware of certain rules. As of this writing, Florida law permits video cameras to be installed in certain places, but in the overwhelming majority of situations, they may not record audio. Florida is what is known as an all-party consent state, which means that conversations may not be recorded without the consent of all parties involved. Other states have one-party consent laws – for example, Georgia and Alabama – but in Florida, any unauthorized recording is illegal.
In addition, the cameras must not be installed anywhere that might encompass areas where tenants and guests have a reasonable expectation of privacy. A camera must be pointed at the common areas, rather than toward any individual unit, even if that unit has curtains and other privacy aids installed. Cameras, whether video or static, can cause an ‘intrusion upon seclusion’ which, if serious enough, can violate Florida’s ‘video voyeurism’ law.
Contact A Hollywood, FL Condo Association Attorney
Community associations are constantly exploring potential options to keep their tenants safe – or, in theory, they should be. However, they do not have a free hand. If your condo board or HOA is interested in installing security cameras, it is crucial that both board members and owners should understand the positives and negatives. If you have questions or concerns on this issues, calling a Hollywood condo association attorney from the Law Offices of Steven A. Mason, P.A. can be a way to get them answered. Contact our office today to speak to an attorney.