Roomate Michigan law on recording (audio) in a shared house?


New Member
I have a long standing problem with an inconsiderate and irresponsible roommate when it comes to loud noises and having guests over to the house (against the homeowner's express wishes and despite being given multiple warnings) throughout the evening and early morning hours [waking me up and making it impossible for me to sleep soundly].
I have worked with the homeowner for some time trying to get this person to knock it off, but even after she was given notice to leave the premises, the problem still persists. While there is only 3 more weeks until she claims she is leaving, the fact that it has been less than a week before the problems resumed has me considering other actions.
I've been dealing with this for over 6 months now and fear it may get worse before she leaves, if she leaves at all without being forced to do so through an eviction process. It has affected my sleep, my health and my job and if it does get worse before she is gone (especially if it appears intentional which I am beginning to get some indications that it is) I am considering taking her to court myself.
What I want to know is what the legality is of me recording sounds heard above a certain level in my own part of the house. I have no desire to record her personal conversations, but would like to document some of the excessive noises through-out the night in the event it does continue or get worse. I need to know what my legal requirements are regarding notification or consent if any to record anything clearly audible within my own private part of the house?
It might be smarter to purchase a videotape device, and use it as a surveillance device.
If you read on, you'll discover WHY.

The easiest solution might be to wear earplugs and tough it out until the noisemaker has departed.

Don't expect a speedy resolution, even IF you take it to court.

I suggest you disabuse yourself of attempting to record in Michigan. Read on for the why....

Michigan law makes it a crime to "use[] any device to eavesdrop upon [a] conversation without the consent of all parties." Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.539c. This looks like an "all party consent" law, but one Michigan Court has ruled that a participant in a private conversation may record it without violating the statute because the statutory term "eavesdrop" refers only to overhearing or recording the private conversations of others. See Sullivan v. Gray, 342 N.W. 2d 58, 60-61 (Mich. Ct. App. 1982).

The Michigan Supreme Court has not yet ruled on this question, so it is not clear whether you may record a conversation or phone call if you are a party to it. But, if you plan on recording a conversation to which you are not a party, you must get the consent of all parties to that conversation. In addition, if you intend to record conversations involving people located in more than one state, you should play it safe and get the consent of all parties.

Michigan law also makes it a crime to "install, place, or use in any private place, without the consent of the person or persons entitled to privacy in that place, any device for observing, recording, transmitting, photographing, or eavesdropping upon the sounds or events in that place." Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.539d. The law defines a "private place" as a place where a person "may reasonably expect to be safe from casual or hostile intrusion or surveillance but does not include a place to which the public or substantial group of the public has access." Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.539a. You should always avoid these kinds of surveillance tactics.

Michigan law also prohibits you from "us[ing] or divulg[ing] any information which [you] know[] or reasonably should know was obtained in violation of the other wiretapping laws. Mich. Comp. Laws § 750.539e. To the extent this statute forbids you from publishing truthful information on a matter of public concern provided to you by a third-party (when you had no role in the wiretapping), it is probably unconstitutional. See Bartnicki v. Vopper, 532 U.S. 514 (2001).

In addition to subjecting you to criminal prosecution, violating these provisions can expose you to a civil lawsuit for money damages by an injured party.