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September 12, 2019 Jake Fine

10 Things You Should Know: Cameras on the Common Elements

For the safety of the residents and the property, installing cameras on the common elements is a no brainer.  However, there is another concern that condominium corporations must consider other than safety – privacy.  Here are ten things your condominium corporation needs to know about installing cameras on the common elements:

  1. The Ontario Court of Appeal has ruled that residents have a “reasonable expectation of privacy” on a condominium corporation’s common elements. This expectation is on a sliding scale, and each case must be determined on its individual facts.

  2. The installation of cameras may constitute an addition, alteration or improvement to the common elements. Prior to installing security cameras on the common elements, a condominium corporation must consider and satisfy the requirements of Section 97 of the Condominium Act, 1998.

  3. The installation of cameras on the common elements must be made after careful consideration as to the purposes and use of the video surveillance. This is in order to minimize privacy intrusions as much as possible, as well as to minimize the chances of any unit owner or resident challenging the condominium corporation's right to install and use the cameras. A possible challenge could be on the basis that the condominium corporation has breached the owner or resident’s reasonable expectation of privacy.

  4. A condominium corporation must determine if a less intrusive alternative to video surveillance would meet the condominium corporation’s needs. In other words, the use of cameras should be resorted to only when all other reasonable options have been tried and been deemed insufficient.

  5. Every condominium corporation should have a Privacy and Video Surveillance Policy. This policy sets out, among other things, the rationale and purpose of the cameras, and provides a set of guidelines and procedures for the board and the condominium corporation’s staff to follow.

  6. Unit owners and residents must be sufficiently warned about the common element areas that are under video surveillance. This would include installing sufficient warning signs on the common elements that those affected areas are under video surveillance, and preparing and serving the unit owners with a Privacy and Video Surveillance Policy.

  7. The reason(s) for installing the cameras and conducting video surveillance should be clearly established in writing, and should only be used for those reason(s). For example, if the cameras are installed to monitor a locker room for theft, then the footage cannot later be used for other purposes, such as monitoring the lawful objects that residents are putting in their lockers.

  8. All recorded images should be stored in a secure location, with limited access, and should be destroyed when they are no longer required.  The recorded footage should only be viewed by authorized personnel and should only be viewed in the event of an incident.

  9. Recording audio may be considered a criminal offence. Audio should not be recorded without legal advice.

  10. Cameras should be positioned in such a fashion as to reduce capturing images of individuals who are not being targeted. The viewing range of a security camera must not capture the inside of any unit.
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