All landlords have concerns about whether their properties are being well looked after in their absence. General wear and tear is one thing, but the worry about whether your tenants are acting responsibly can be a cause of stress and considerable expense. It may be that you have considered using CCTV surveillance both inside and outside your property, but are unsure of the law in this area. If so, we have written this guide, first to determine whether you need CCTV but also what your responsibilities are if you go ahead with the decision.
Do you need CCTV?
The use of CCTV should be to aid a specific and stated purpose and must always take into account the impact on people’s privacy. If there is a less intrusive but equally effective method you could use, this must be considered.
In the case of your tenants the impact on privacy is large, due to its taking place in their home, albeit a temporary one. However, if you have experienced unreliable tenants who have continued to ignore the rules set out in the tenancy agreement, you are entitled to install CCTV in communal areas within the house as well as outside the property. You would need to discuss this with your tenants to explain the situation and why you have taken the decision to use CCTV, as full disclosure and transparency is a legal requirement. The necessity of CCTV must also be reviewed regularly to ensure that its use continues to be justified.
Special care should be taken to ensure you are adhering to the covenant of quiet enjoyment, which means that tenants have the right to be left to live in the property in peace. This is often a clause in a tenancy agreement, but even if it is not written down, it still applies.
There must be a clear and prominent sign to advertise the fact that CCTV is in operation. This sign must be big enough to be read easily by those affected, so the size must be proportional to the situation. You also must say on the sign who is operating the system, the purpose of the operation and who to contact regarding the scheme. This information may not always be necessary if these facts are already obvious, for instance a CCTV camera within a shop. Although it may be obvious to your tenants in some circumstances who they need to contact, in others it may not be, such as in halls of residence students may be less aware due to the size of the operation.
There must be clear rules and procedures put in place before the CCTV system is used and all people in use of the system must be made aware of them. Access must be granted only to people who need to see it out of necessity. After the footage has served its specific purpose it must be deleted. Only footage and information that is strictly required for the CCTV’s stated purpose can be stored.
Subject Access Requests
Any person who has had their image recorded by CCTV has a right to request the footage and you are obliged to provide it within 40 calendar days of receiving a request. You can charge for fulfilling the request, with a maximum charge of £10 as set by Parliament. You may need to blur the faces of third parties before providing the footage, depending on whether their privacy is infringed. In most situations this would not be necessary, unless a crime has been committed, as outside your property people will not have an expectation of privacy and inside it will already be known that the third party was present, due to the close proximity.