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Does a home owner in a Condo have the right to keep neighbors under surveillance with Scouting Camera

Lynnwood, WA |

My husband & I live in a condo that is pretty dysfunctional to say the least. Today we noticed as we were leaving for work that a neighbor hung a scouting trail video camera above her door in a common element.Hanging things in common elements is a violation of our CCR's,But we would like to know if this is a violation of any WA.RCW of the state by keeping People under surveillance or taking Photos without permission. We feel very uncomfortable at this point walking that way because it feels out of place & as if we are being watched & recorded.Neighbors even said something about it tonight.
We would like to approach our board but she is a former member whose very difficult & we feel nothing will be done,so we would like to know what our rights are as homeowners and if any RCW exist. Thanks

Attorney Answers 3

  1. Best answer

    Your CCR's were a good place to start, and it appears that you may have already confirmed that this is a violation. Without having reviewed your CCR's and other controlling documents, I can't say for sure, but it is more likely than not that you have the right to pursue legal action yourself to enforce the CCR's, independent of any action the board may take or consider. There is probably a basis to recover your attorney's fees as well. Aside from the cause of action based on your condominium documents, there is civil action for invasion of property that you may be able to pursue.

    You should document that matter by taking pictures of the camera. Then you should review your matter with an attorney to determine the best course of action.

    Legal disclaimer: The answer provided: A) is for informational purposes only, B) is not intended to constitute legal advice, C) should not be relied upon in lieu of consultation with an attorney, and, D) does not establish an attorney client relationship. The answer may be different if all of the facts were known.

  2. I am not aware of any Washington state law that specifically prohibits the type of surveillance you describe. RCW 9.73, which establishes state laws relating to privacy, does not mention video surveillance. If the surveillance is directed at a specific person, then that person may be able to obtain an anti-harassment order pursuant to RCW 10.14. Unlawful harassment is defined in that statute as a "course of conduct directed at a specific person which seriously alarms, annoys, harasses, or is detrimental to such person, and which serves no legitimate or lawful purpose."

  3. As long as the cameras are not pointed towards an area where another homeowner has a reasonable expectation of privacy, a homeowner may install surveillance cameras in/on his unit. This does not constitute an invasion of privacy or a nuisance. The areas that may be captured by surveillance cameras are not considered “private” if those areas can be seen by a passerby.

    It appears that unless the cameras are pointed at a "private" area (one that cannot be seen by anyone walking by, etc.), your only grounds for removal of the cameras may be the possible violation of the CC&Rs.