Can Tenants Install Security Cameras?

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Renting your home doesn't disqualify you from using a security camera on the property, but it's not as cut-and-dry as with homeowners. We'll spell out where and when you need permission to install security camera gear as a renter.

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When you don't need permission to install a security camera

In most cases, renters can install security cameras inside their homes without asking a landlord for permission. Still, you should follow security camera privacy laws by keeping indoor cameras out of areas where people expect privacy, like bedrooms and bathrooms.

When to ask for permission to install a security camera

Carefully examine your lease agreement for references to security cameras and video doorbells. Your apartment complex might require permission in a couple of cases:

Installation requires drilling or electrical work

A lease may not ban cameras outright, but property management prefers to minimize repairs after you move out—and may charge a fee to fix each hole you drill. This applies to every camera you install inside or outside your rental property. You should always get permission to install a wired doorbell camera, but there are workarounds for other types of cameras.

Possible workarounds

Most security cameras plug into a wall outlet and connect to your Wi-Fi network, making them easy to install. You don't need to stress over fees for putting screw holes in the wall since you can place your surveillance camera on a table or shelf without mounting it on a wall or ceiling.

You can use adhesive strips to mount your camera instead of screws. Here are some tips for buying suitable strips for your camera:

  • Buy strips that can hold your camera's weight.
  • Look for strips that are easy to remove so they don't damage paint or leave a sticky residue.
  • Consider an adhesive hook that fits your camera's mounting holes if the camera mount doesn't have a large enough surface to stick to.
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Penny nails and push pins

Some cameras are light enough to hang from penny nails and push pins, which many landlords allow because they don't make big holes. These aren't as stable as screws or adhesive strips but are a great solution for places where you can't easily knock the camera down.

Installing outdoor cameras and video doorbells

Even if you can install your home security camera without damaging your apartment building, you need to be aware of privacy concerns. While it's legal to record in a public space, common area, or parking spot outside your home, you may need to adjust your surveillance camera so it doesn't look into the homes of other tenants.

Placement is especially problematic for video doorbells with a clear view of the rental unit across from you. Some doorbell cameras come with wedges to point the lens downward, but it isn't always enough to protect privacy. This is why it’s best to ask before installing a video doorbell.

Recording audio in public

If your camera records audio, you may need to turn this feature off in states that require two-party consent for audio recordings. Head over to our guide to security camera audio to see if your state is on the list.

Adding video surveillance to your home is a great way to improve your home security and protect your home—tenant or not. Head over to our reviews of the wireless security cameras and video doorbells to see our top picks.

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John Carlsen
Written by
John Carlsen
John is a technology journalist specializing in smart home devices, security cameras, and home security systems. He has over a decade of experience researching, testing, and reviewing the latest tech—he was the Smart Home Editor for Top Ten Reviews and wrote for ASecureLife before joining SafeWise as a Staff Writer in 2020. John holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications, Journalism emphasis from Utah Valley University. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking, photography, cooking, and starting countless DIY projects he has yet to complete.

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