This article about the installation of CCTV cameras in VIC has been provided by Joel Chamberlain, Horizon Strata Management Group.
Question: One of the owners in our complex has installed a CCTV on common property without seeking our approval. Can they do this?
I live in a property with 3 houses under strata title but we do not have a management company looking after it. All 3 owners act as owners corporation.
Recently one of the owners installed a CCTV on common property without seeking our approval.
Can they do this?
Answer: Any alteration to common property requires (at the very least) consent from the Owners Corporation.
There are two main points here you should consider.
Firstly, any alteration to common property requires (at the very least) consent from the Owners Corporation. Refer to the Owners Corporation Model Rules. Section 4.3
4.3 Damage to common property
- An owner or occupier of a lot must not damage or alter the common property without the written approval of the owners corporation.
- An owner or occupier of a lot must not damage or alter a structure that forms part of the common property without the written approval of the owners corporation.
If the camera has been installed on common property, then this section applies.
You might then advise the installer that unless they obtain the written consent of the Owners Corporation, the camera will need to be removed. At the very least, you should discuss this with the other lot owner and confirm whether you consent to the install or not.
If the camera is however installed on private property but faces on to common property, then the circumstances are different.
There are some interesting things to consider with CCTV and Surveillance in Owners Corporations. These typically fall under the Surveillance Devices Act 1999.
Section 7 sets out the following:
- Subject to subsection (2), a person must not knowingly install, use or maintain an optical surveillance device to record visually or observe a private activity to which the person is not a party, without the express or implied consent of each party to the activity.
The key phrase here is “private activity”. The Act defines a private activity as follows:
“private activity” means an activity carried on in circumstances that may reasonably be taken to indicate that the parties to it desire it to be observed only by themselves, but does not include—
- an activity carried on outside a building; or
- an activity carried on in any circumstances in which the parties to it ought reasonably to expect that it may be observed by someone else;
Without breaking down each definition and detail separately, if a camera is placed in a location which captures footage where others would likely observe that person, then you can expect no breach of the Act has occurred.
Generally, footage captured anywhere outside a building is not restricted, as set out above. Camera footage inside a building may also be permitted, provided the person in the footage could be expected to be observed by others when accessing that area. Examples might include common foyers or car parks.
However, if a camera points directly into an area which is deemed private, and a person expects others will not observe them while in that area, a breach may occur. This could include areas like bedrooms or living areas.
There are several other factors to consider with surveillance and CCTV in common areas, such as express or implied consent of those being filmed. You must also be mindful of who has access to the footage and in what capacity it used or shown.
In short, it sounds like the owner has installed the camera without consent. So, the first step would be to discuss your concerns with them and look at resolving this issue in the best interests of everyone’s privacy and the properties security.
This post appears in Strata News #388
Have a question about installation of CCTV cameras in or something to add to the article? Leave a comment below.Embed
- VIC: Can Strata Managers Continue to Work in Melbourne Under Stage 4 Restrictions?
- NSW: Invasion of Privacy by CCTV Cameras
- QLD: Q&A Can a Lot Owner Access Body Corporate CCTV Footage?
Looking for strata information concerning your state? For state-specific strata information, take a look here.