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Subject: Security Camera pointed a neighbors backyard vs any of the owner's property
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Author Messages
AvaA
(North Carolina)

Posts:28


05/16/2021 8:25 PM  
In North Carolina, we have a resident who installed at surveillance camera on the rear & side corner of her narrow house. The camera blatantly faces the next door neighbor's yard only. This neighbor has distributed images of the other neighbor's backyard. The spied up neighbor's backyard fills the entire frame of the image. None of the camera owner's five-foot wide side yard or any of the backyard is in the frame. It looks rather clear that a neighbor is watching and monitoring another neighbor. Note: the spied upon neighbor has a wooded backyard with trees on the side yards, too. The spying neighbor has to work a bit to see the other neighbor's backyard. The spied upon neighbor has complained of not being able to enjoy her own backyard because of the constant surveilance. She stated that her nieces & nephews aren't allowed in her backyard anymore because the parents (understandably) don't want their kids spied especially when they believe they are in a private backyard. (Sometimes the kids would strip to their underwear & play with water. That's something they'd never do in a front yard which is perceived as in "public view." The spied upon neighbor has also voiced concern about people knowing about private conversations she's had in her backyard. She suspects the spying neighbor is recording audio without her consent. Her friends no longer want to go in the backyard because of the surveillance.

The spying neighbor submitted pictures from the neighbors backyard for alleged violations, which some proved untrue.

Is this a problem for the HOA or Management Co?
Is the spied upon neighbor's backyard legally considered "public view"? The spied upon neighbor has a recycling bin in the backyard. Items like that are to be shielded from "public view." Considering how the neighbor obtained the picture, is the recycling bin in "public view?" It cannot be seen from the street. It isn't easy to see the neighbor's backyard.
AugustinD


Posts:1937


05/16/2021 8:38 PM  
-- Arguably this is harassment that your HOA's Declaration and/or rules and regs may very well prohibit. The Board should ask the person being harassed to submit a formal complaint, stating which rules and regulations and which covenants are being violated; offering evidence (like photos of the camera; emails discussing the camera, et cetera). After the Board receives the formal complaint, the Board should turn the complaint over to the HOA attorney and ask for advice on how to proceed.

-- In North Carolina, from what I am reading, it's entirely possible that the only sure way to stop this harassment is for the neighbor to hire her own attorney. But do not assume this means the HOA is required to do nothing. I happen to think the HOA likely is obliged to take action.
MarshallT
(New York)

Posts:180


05/17/2021 6:47 AM  
Hi,

The HOA does need to take action here. You're right that the backyard being surveilled is not a public space, and the owner should have a reasonable expectation of privacy while in their backyard. The camera is clearly violating that expectation.

The neighbour being watched should submit a formal complaint to the board. Also, the HOA should have rules about surveillance technology and where cameras can be installed. The neighbour has no right to monitor someone else's backyard.

As far as sound goes, it is illegal in many states to record a conversation that is being had somewhere private (like a backyard). The HOA may have to get a lawyer involved, but hopefully the owner is compliant and stops recording their neighbour.
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:11667


05/17/2021 9:13 AM  
Ava

Was it simply a picture concerning an alleged violation or is it constant monitoring of the backyard via a video camera?
AvaA
(North Carolina)

Posts:28


05/17/2021 9:30 AM  
To answer some questions

The spying neighbor's camera was installed in February. It has been pointed at the neighbor's backyard only & none of the camera owner's property since February. Both neighbor's have narrow side yards. The spying neighbor has 5' of side yard while the spied on neighbor has 7' of side yard.

Even if the security camera is only used to report alleged violations, isn't that misuse of a security camera and illegal?

Further, the spying neighbor distributes images from her "security" camera that have nothing to do with home security, but have everything to do with the neighbor's property. Again, is that misuse of a security camera and illegal?
AvaA
(North Carolina)

Posts:28


05/17/2021 10:47 AM  
It is constant monitoring that began when the security camera was installed in February 2021.

I suspect it is illegal to use security cameras to record other people's private backyards and to share those images with anyone besides law enforcement.

I thought I replied to your earlier. I'm new to this forum & perhaps I did something wrong.
MichaelS56
(Minnesota)

Posts:306


05/18/2021 12:41 PM  
Our Association is presently in the process of developing specs for installing security cameras and what limitations are to be imposed so what you wrote about does not happen.
AvaA
(North Carolina)

Posts:28


05/18/2021 6:54 PM  
Posted By MichaelS56 on 05/18/2021 12:41 PM
Our Association is presently in the process of developing specs for installing security cameras and what limitations are to be imposed so what you wrote about does not happen.




I'm glad some good is coming out of this!
AvaA
(North Carolina)

Posts:28


05/18/2021 6:57 PM  
Posted By MarshallT on 05/17/2021 6:47 AM
Hi,


As far as sound goes, it is illegal in many states to record a conversation that is being had somewhere private (like a backyard). The HOA may have to get a lawyer involved, but hopefully the owner is compliant and stops recording their neighbour.



In North Carolina, only one party need consent. However, if the spied upon neighbor isn't talking to the spying neighbor there is no consent.
MelissaP1
(Alabama)

Posts:10595


05/18/2021 7:48 PM  
I don't see this as a HOA issue. It is more of a neighbor vs neighbor of which the HOA is getting dragged into. They are using the HOA to create violations against the neighbor. The HOA can maybe make rules about placement of cameras.

This is a legal issue. The neighbor whom is being violated by the camera views will need to pursue legal actions. What that may be is call police or a lawyer. Otherwise, the HOA needs to back up and get out of this.

Former HOA President
MikeB23
(Louisiana)

Posts:60


06/14/2021 3:20 PM  
The person being looked at just needs to install a spot light aimed at the camera of the person doing the looking. That will end the problem.
SteveM9
(Massachusetts)

Posts:3615


07/04/2021 7:26 AM  
What if it was a hidden camera and no one knew it existed?

People get so upset about visible cameras, they don't even think about the possibility of cameras they cant see.
LetA
(Nevada)

Posts:1469


07/04/2021 9:35 AM  
Posted By SteveM9 on 07/04/2021 7:26 AM
What if it was a hidden camera and no one knew it existed?

People get so upset about visible cameras, they don't even think about the possibility of cameras they cant see.






BINGO!!!! Everyone ignores the elephant in the room.
JaneL2
(Texas)

Posts:78


07/12/2021 3:37 PM  
I would think that you should look into the specific laws for North Carolina regarding right to privacy, wiretapping, stalking, as in Texas there is a one party consent so at least 1 of the parties out of for example. If neighbor was spying on you and recording with video and audio such as my neighbor does to me, this is privacy violation but, our HOA documents do not address this situation. Since our HOA maintains the exterior or our townhomes, and my neighbor did not get permission to mount the camera onto the exterior of the building then that would be a violation of the HOA restrictions. Being that it is in your backyard I would think that you would have an invasion of privacy case, what do the state, local, and county laws say?
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