Video Surveillance Policy for Your HOA

By Matthew Gaines
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From time to time, homeowners request copies of video surveillance footage. In general, the unwritten policy has been to not provide copies to homeowners. Should we have a written policy? What would it look like?

While it’s not necessary for the board to have a written policy when it comes to providing surveillance footage to homeowners, a policy can help prevent issues or disputes. A written policy ensures requests for surveillance footage are handled in a uniform and fair manner. In addition, it enables the board to direct the homeowner to the policy for guidance.

If any governmental authorities should request copies of surveillance footage, the board should comply unless there is a compelling reason to refuse. There is nothing that obligates the board to provide surveillance footage to a homeowner. Any written policy should make it clear that the decision to provide the footage will be in the sole discretion of the board. Depending upon the reason for the request or the contents of the surveillance footage, there may be reasons why it would be inappropriate for the board to provide the footage to a homeowner. Thus, each request should be handled on a case-by-case basis.

Another factor the board must consider when drafting a policy is the type of surveillance used. For example, how long is the surveillance footage kept before it is automatically deleted or overwritten with new footage? What is the capability (and cost, if any) of downloading the footage and making it available to third parties? There can be significant differences between surveillance footage and the software used to store the footage, so the board should review these pieces before drafting a policy.

Finally, prior to drafting and distributing the policy to homeowners, consult with the association’s attorney to make sure it will not cause any unintended consequences to the board or the association.

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Matthew Gaines

Matthew Gaines is a partner at Marcus, Errico, Emmer & Brooks in Braintree, Mass.