Q. Our association has security cameras at the community pool and spa, but we recently learned that the association president has the ability to view the feeds from these cameras from his home. This makes many members uncomfortable. Is this legal?
A. There a few issues to consider here, and we really cannot give you a clear answer without reviewing your association documents and seeing the cameras themselves. First, security cameras should not be installed in areas where homeowners and their tenants and guests have a reasonable expectation of privacy, such as locker rooms, bathrooms, or areas where the camera may record the interior portions of a homeowner’s unit. The most popular locations to install surveillance cameras are at entry gates, recreational facilities and other common areas as a means to deter trespassing, vandalism, property damage, and rules violations. Second, did your association even have the legal right to install the cameras to begin with? If you are living in a condominium, the association may have been required to obtain approval from 75 percent of the unit owners before installing the cameras. In a homeowners association, the board should proper authority in the community documents before spending association funds to install security cameras. Third, who should have access to the video feed? If the association employed a security company and those working for that company have the ability to monitor the video feed for security purposes, one could argue that the president of the association should also have access to the video feed. After all, the president and the other board members are charged with the duty of operating and maintaining the common areas. Thus, if the cameras are installed in a conspicuous place at the pool and spa area such that there is no expectation of privacy for those using the facilities, I do not believe that the association is violating Florida law simply by allowing the president to monitor the video feed for proper purposes. You should still check with legal counsel to ensure that the association took the appropriate legal steps to purchase and install the cameras.