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I need advice on this...

Discussion in 'Commercial Landlord & Tenant Issues' started by Anon M, Dec 5, 2020.

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  1. Anon M

    Anon M Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Jurisdiction:
    California
    Long story short,

    I'm currently renting a room with other tenants in a 2 story house, and so I asked the Landlord for permission to install 2 security cameras to watch over the parking lot (mainly to my 3 vehicles) in case there were any property damaged caused by the other tenants.

    Today, one of the tenants who has a habit of making trouble, was yelling and arguing with the landlord while the landlord was doing small repairs. They argued underneath my cameras and so the cameras captured the incident.

    The landlord leaves and I get back home 1 hour later. As soon as I parked, the tenant that was arguing came up to me and asked if my cameras records audio. I said, "I'm not answering any of your questions," and he replied, "Did you know it's illegal to record my conversation? I'm gonna sue you!!!"

    So now the question is, can he legally sue me for this even though I received permission from the landlord?
     
  2. justblue

    justblue Well-Known Member

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    He could file a criminal complaint. Recording audio of others conversations is against the law...both federal and state. Allowing you to install video security does not mean you are legally allowed to audio record.
     
  3. Anon M

    Anon M Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I see.

    The cameras do capture audio but not forcefully. I have to opt in for audio recording but its disabled.

    Regarding my options, should I remove the cameras?
     
  4. justblue

    justblue Well-Known Member

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    Yes. Get camera(s) that only record video. And, IMO, an apology to your roommates would be in order.
     
  5. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    He could sue, but nothing in your post suggests he would win because there is nothing to suggest he suffered any damages from the recording.

    That said, both federal and California law make it illegal to record private conversations in certain circumstances. Under federal law, in general recording a private conversation is illegal unless the person doing the recording has the consent of at least one of the persons participating in the conversation (which could be the person recording if he/she is a party to the conversation). Under California law, the consent of ALL parties is required to record a private conversation. But the question arises as to which conversations are actually confidential, i.e. what conversations do the parties have a reasonable expectation would be private? If the conversation is not private then the wiretap law does not cover it. The problem is that in a lot of situations there is not a clear answer to whether the conversation is confidential. You might only find that out when a jury comes back and delivers its verdict on the matter. Given that violation of both the federal and state wiretap laws can land you in prison, it's generally a good idea not to record if you have any doubt about whether the conversation is private unless you have the consent of everyone participating in the conversation.

    I don't see a need to replace the camera. If your camera is capable of recording sound then simply ensure that the audio recording feature is disabled and you should be fine. The law prohibits audio recording only, not video recording, and you only violate it if you actually record the audio. You aren't guilty just because the camera is capable of recording sound. It's only a problem when the conversation is actually recorded.
     
    Zigner likes this.
  6. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    I also don't see a need to change the camera, especially if it is not currently recording audio.

    The scenario you describe does not strike me as one which would have a reasonable expectation of privacy, especially if yelling and arguing in common areas of a home with multiple residents.
     
    Zigner likes this.
  7. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    Why cop such a prickish attitude?

    Are you supposing that your landlord is some sort of sovereign who can give you permission to violate state law? The good news for you is that what you did would not give rise to a valid civil lawsuit. The bad news is that what you did may have been a crime, and you just admitted to it in a public forum.
     
  8. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    Folks - stop trying to scare the OP.

    (c) For the purposes of this section, “confidential communication” means any communication carried on in circumstances as may reasonably indicate that any party to the communication desires it to be confined to the parties thereto, but excludes a communication made in a public gathering or in any legislative, judicial, executive, or administrative proceeding open to the public, or in any other circumstance in which the parties to the communication may reasonably expect that the communication may be overheard or recorded.

    (Law section.)

    The people were in a shouting match in a public area outside. There was no reasonable expectation of confidentiality.

    Of course, it would be wise to either turn off the audio recording capability (as was mentioned above), or post conspicuous signs advising that audio is being recorded, although the second option has its own perils.
     

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