Many people look to security cameras to deter crime and keep their property safe when it comes to home security. But what happens when your neighbor installs security cameras that point right at your house? Can they do that legally? And what are your rights if you feel like you’re being spied on? Read on to find out more.
Can my neighbor legally point his cameras at my property? There are no laws regarding video recording that prohibit a security camera owner from pointing their surveillance equipment at your property. However, recording audio without the permission of both parties is illegal in states with two-party consent laws.
Before you get upset with your neighbor, ask them if you can see the footage of the cameras pointing at your property.
Often, even though it looks like the camera is pointed at your property, the truth is that the camera’s viewing angle does not allow for a great amount of detail about your property.
Disclaimer: This post is general and can be applied to many situations. Since there’s no federal law concerning video surveillance, your state may have its own laws that you need to follow. We’re not lawyers and can’t give legal advice, so please consult one if it pertains directly to what kind of legal advice or situation suits best!
Your neighbor’s right to install security cameras
In my years as an installer for security systems, I have been involved in several disputes between neighbors while installing their cameras.
Even though you may feel that you are being watched, the truth is that your neighbor probably will never look at their cameras unless something happens on their property.
Just keep that in mind before you start a war between you and your neighbor.
The key thing you need to know is the law allows neighbors to take measures to protect their property, and therefore they can’t be responsible if their security camera happens to catch something going on next door.
Laws for residential outdoor surveillance cameras?
It’s important to note that most laws governing security camera installation and surveillance equipment do not apply to residential outdoor cameras (meaning those installed on the outside of a house).
- Outdoor security cameras don’t require a permit and can be installed on or around your home without official permission or certifications.
- If your neighbor installs a security camera that’s pointed at your property- you can’t do anything about it from a legal perspective because it’s installed on their property.
- Your neighbor can install whatever they want on the side of their house facing your yard because it’s technically not against the law to do that.
- You then have no legal recourse to get them to adjust or remove the camera, and any requests you make will fall on deaf ears.
If you’re entering into a dispute with a neighbor about outdoor surveillance cameras, then you should know that it will be difficult to resolve this issue through legal means.
Can my neighbor record my property with audio?
You may wonder, is it legal for my neighbor to record audio from my property? The answer is, unfortunately, yes. In single-party consent states, your neighbor has the right to record any audio that happens on your property, as long as they are not trespassing while doing so.
While you may find this unsettling, there’s not much you can do about it. However, if you feel your privacy is being violated, you may want to consider speaking with an attorney.
Two-party consent states
Most modern WiFi and IP security cameras can record audio and video. Seeing onto your property is one thing, but recording audio takes things to a whole new level of privacy invasion.
Some states require consent for both parties to record audio, while some require it from only one party for audio recording.
- New Hampshire
These states have complicated rules when it comes to recording conversations. It is best to work with an attorney to find out if your neighbor is violating the privacy laws in these states.
How far can security cameras capture audio?
If you’re worried about your neighbor’s cameras capturing audio, the truth is that it depends on how far away you are.
The closer you are to a microphone, the better it can pick up sound. Security cameras with audio capabilities can capture audio from about 100-150 feet away.
So, while your neighbor might record audio without your consent, conversations they may pick up are likely to be muffled.
What are my rights about audio being recorded?
If audio recording is illegal in your state (check your local laws), then you have the right to request that the cameras be turned off.
If your neighbor refuses, they are violating the law, and you can sue them for invasion of privacy.
However, if it’s legal to record audio, you don’t have a legal basis for asking your neighbor to stop recording.
Typically, you will need a recording of the sounds captured by their cameras for evidence of any violations before you can take them to court.
Your right to privacy
Since there are no specific laws that prohibit a security camera owner from pointing their surveillance equipment at your property, it’s important to think about the reasons behind their decision.
“Most likely, a neighbor is pointing a security camera at your property because they want to capture the view of their property and possibly the surrounding area.
While this may seem harmless enough, the legality of a security camera’s location depends on whether or not you have a reasonable expectation of privacy and, if so, what type of footage is being captured.
If you can prove that an invasion of your privacy is occurring, then you have legal recourse and may be able to sue the security camera owner.
What can you do if your neighbor is invading your privacy?
The first step would be to talk to them politely about it: maybe they just didn’t think it through and didn’t realize that they’re infringing on your right to privacy.
- Talk to them about it and hope for the best, but be prepared to take action if they don’t remove the equipment or adjust the cameras to point away from your property.
- If the neighbor’s security camera captures your private moments without your consent, you can file a civil suit against them for invasion of privacy.
In addition to the financial compensation that comes with winning this type of case- it also puts pressure on them to stop recording you in the future.
It’s your call if you want to take the issue to court, so think about whether or not this is worth doing before making your decision.
How do I sue my neighbor for invasion of privacy?
Before you start plotting your neighborhood feud, you should realize that suing your neighbor is difficult and expensive.
- It can take months or even years to take a case to court, and no one wins 100% of the time.
- Even if you win, you might not get any compensation for your troubles.
If you feel like the security camera has been installed to spy on you, then consider suing your neighbor for invasion of privacy or a similar claim.
- Have your attorney write them a letter stating that they need to remove the camera or face legal action.
- This letter might be enough to make them take the camera down without filing a claim in court.
- If they refuse to remove it, you can begin building a case against them.
Things your neighbor can do to respect your privacy?
Sometimes, it is not possible to prevent your neighbor’s cameras from seeing over the property line, but there’s also no reason for them to view your entire backyard either.
1- Ask them to reposition the security camera to limit the amount of footage it captures of your property. I usually adjust the cameras to see just above the fence of the neighbor’s property.
Most cameras have an adjustable lens to zoom in and out of the field of view.
If your neighbor agrees, they might be willing to adjust the lens, so the camera is no longer zoomed out to see your property.
2- Ask your neighbor to add a privacy mask to the security camera
Some cameras have a masking function that you can use to prevent viewing certain areas.
The masking settings mask off portions of the camera’s field of view to prevent this exact type of situation.
Suppose your neighbor is willing to do this. In that case, it can be a great way to resolve privacy invasion issues while still allowing the cameras to function effectively for their intended use.
Though it may be difficult to enforce your right to privacy from outdoor security cameras legally, there are a few things you can do to mitigate the situation.
If your neighbor is willing, ask them to adjust the camera’s angle or add a privacy mask so that less of your property is captured on film.
Enabling the masking feature found on most CCTV systems can quickly solve any disputes between neighbors.
I hope this helps.