Somebody’s Watching Me

I just read a disturbing article Couple Realizes Alarm Clock is Telling More than Time – the gist of it is that they rented a fully furnished house.  The tenant would unplug the alarm clock to use his guitar.  He would later notice the alarm clock plugged back in.  Eventually, the couple figures out the landlord was filming them through a hidden camera in the clock. Very disturbing.  Equally disturbing is that the landlord kept entering the house to plug the camera back in.  I happen to love crime solving shows so this got me to thinking about how renters could protect themselves.  There are two points to consider –

  1. Finding the Cameras
    • This article gives some good tips, Basically, there are smartphone apps but they did not test well.  There are devices you can buy for anywhere from $20 – $300, but they found that holding a paper towel roll up to your eye, closing the other eye and holding a flashlight parallel to the paper towel holder will show the white reflection of the cameras.
  2. Making Sure No One is Coming in Your Place Without your Permission
    • Your landlord is not permitted to enter your apartment without your permission unless there is a true emergency in the apartment – fire, flood, etc.  For this reason, you cannot change the locks and withhold a key from the landlord.  While it is your home, it is still their property, for which they are responsible.  The landlord or their handyman can enter with 24 hours notice to make repairs. Within 90 days of your lease ending, the landlord or their agent can enter with 24 hours notice to show the property to prospective tenants.  And finally, within 30 days of the tenancy ending the landlord or their representative can enter to inspect for damages.  So your best bet is to put in your own cameras and put them at the doors to see who is coming and going.  That way you don’t have to worry about getting into trouble yourself for violating anyone’s privacy.  Also, make sure the cameras do not have audio.  There are laws against recording audio.  Another upside to placing them at the door is that holiday season is upon us and it is prime time for packages to be stolen from doorsteps.

Not that we want to think the worst of people.  But an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of worrying and having to take people to court.

Michelle J. Lane

Century 21 Commonwealth
CELL: 617 584-3904