January 15, 2019

To Listen or Not to Listen: Does a Homeowner Have a Right to “Listen in” On a Showing?

SCENARIO: After multiple showings and no offer, a homeowner decides that she wants to get more information on what potential buyers think of her home. As such, she installs multiple cameras throughout the home to watch and listen in on showings. Are there any issues with this homeowner’s actions?

ANALYSIS: There are certain factors that must be considered when determining if the homeowner violated the law when installing cameras into her home to conduct surveillance on a showing. The first consideration is: Where did the recording take place? Every state has different laws as it pertains to recording someone without his or her knowledge and each state’s law is different as to what is or is not permitted.  

What the homeowner is recording is also key. Does the camera in the home merely record video or is audio recorded by the camera or surveillance equipment as well? If the camera is merely recording video, the homeowner is subject to less stringent requirements. Video cameras should not be placed in any locations where an individual could be recorded fully or partially nude (i.e. a bathroom), but otherwise if a homeowner is solely recording video in their own home, they are generally permitted to engage in such an act.