Q: I live in a six-story rental building in Washington Heights with five apartments per floor. My neighbor across the hall installed a Ring camera that takes up the whole floor. It looks directly onto my apartment and offers a clear view of the inside when I open the door. Aside from the fact that it is awkward to know that all of my comings and goings are being recorded, I wonder if this is legal. What can I do?
A: Your neighbor does not have the right to park anything in the hallway without the consent of the landlord, not even a door camera. It is unlikely that your landlord has given the neighbor permission to do so, as landlords generally don't want tenants to damage the walls or record what is going on in the hallways.
"I've never heard of a landlord who approved a camera," said David E. Frazer, an attorney who represents tenants. "That causes problems and can damage walls and ceilings."
Tell your landlord about the cameras and express your concern about the building and walls. With a bit of luck, that will solve the problem. However, if the landlord decides not to interfere, your remaining options are limited, as placing a camera in a common hallway is not illegal.
As a tenant, you do not have the presumption of privacy in public areas of buildings such as hallways, elevators and lobbies. This lack of privacy extends to the area inside your home that is visible when you open the door. So while your neighbor may not be allowed to install a camera and point it directly at your door, your landlord can. "The courts have ruled that the landlord has the right to put a camera in the hallway and even disguise it," said Frazer.
If the landlord doesn't order your neighbor to remove the camera, your only option is to speak to your neighbor directly. If you can, speak to the neighbor and ask if they would at least position the camera away from your door.
Sign up here to receive weekly email updates on residential real estate news. Follow us on Twitter: @nytrealestate.