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Taking pictures of people breaking rules or recording excessive noise, in HOA communities in order to proof the violations

San Jose, CA |

HomeOwnersAssocation (HOA) community rules say no playing or riding of non-cars in the driving areas where cars must travel to enter or leave garages or to drive in and out of the HOA community into the public streets. Residents claim pictures taken of people & objects violating this HOA rule, to be used as evidence, are invasions of privacy. Or if a resident records excessive noise i.e. children shouting, screaming, playing, coming from outside a resident ...Can you advise what is legally supported if pictures are taken or noise are recorded...thanks

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Attorney answers 3


I don't know about your CC&R's, but recording someone without their permission in California is a big no-no. (Pen. Code, §§, 630, et seq.) Recordings made without the recorded person's permission, or a prior court order are inadmissible in all cases.

With respect to pictures, I think you can take pictures of common areas, but if you have a camera pointed through someone's shower window, you are going to get into trouble with the courts.

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You can take photos and video of anyone in a public area. That would include the common areas of the HOA.
You can record a conversation with the consent of all parties. Doing it without consent could be a crime.
If kids are playing outside, in the common areas, recording that would probably be okay.


Invasion of privacy usually goes to the issue of whether those individuals have an expectation of privacy. If you are in the front of your house in open and public view the bar in regard to the invasion of privacy is extremely low. Over the years I have seen many individuals record noise so they could prove to the city that their neighbors were violating city ordinances by their excessive decibels and or disturbing the peace.

I know in my homeowner association we have video cameras that take pictures of the incoming and outgoing vehicles in our neighborhood. Many communities do the same. I would be hard pressed to make a case against you for invasion of privacy with the circumstances you describe.

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