Many Associations are installing webcams in common areas to help with rules compliance. An unmonitored webcam does nothing for security but it will help end “he said she said disputes”. Webcams offer an easy way to catch that smoker at the pool or the owner not cleaning up after their pet. The old saying about a picture being worth a thousand words certainly applies here – denying video proof is hard to do. A board member can easily fast-forward through a day of video in just a few minutes, and if you find clear evidence of a rule or covenant violation, pursuing an enforcement action is easy to implement.
Are webcams a good solution to deter rule violators?
Even if you don’t catch many people violating rules, you’ll find that having the webcams acts as a deterrent. Or, if you have long-standing or ongoing problems with owners not picking up after pets, videotaping can help. Every image or video may not be conclusive, but that’s where the deterrent effect kicks in.
It may also be prudent to set up guidelines or policies on installing webcams that are respectful of others privacy.
HOA’s wishing to install webcams should take care that cameras:
• are not installed in areas where homeowners may have a reasonable expectation of privacy.
• are operable at all times and are capable of recording onto a medium which can be easily stored and later referenced.
• are not collecting audio.
• are not fake or otherwise inoperable.
Additionally, alerting people to a webcam presence with signage is a good policy as well as a deterrent. Webcams can certainly have a place in your community common areas to help with rule violations. Make sure to seek a legal opinion to see if you are properly following your governing documents as well as state and local laws.