Can My Neighbor Record My Backyard? (Do This to Stop Them!)
Many homeowners are installing security cameras to help deter criminals from trespassing on their property. Can my neighbor record my backyard and property though? If a neighbor’s newly installed security camera is pointed at your property, what can you do about it?
It is completely within your neighbor’s legal right to record your backyard and property as long as they aren’t recording areas that violate reasonable expectation of privacy laws. If your neighbor is pointing cameras in areas where privacy is expected, you can take legal action against them.
Not to worry though, because in this blog post we’re going to go over what the reasonable expectation of privacy laws are, and provide you with actionable steps you can take to eliminate the feeling of being spied on by your neighbors.
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Here’s a Quick Pro Tip!
While you can’t really prevent neighbors from pointing their security cameras at your property, you can block their ability to see anything by installing a privacy fence and/or privacy screen.
Amazon has a TON of great affordable solutions to help block neighbors from being able to spy on your property.
Installing a privacy screen and/or privacy fence will help protect your privacy and give you peace of mind when in your backyard.
Can My Neighbor Record My Backyard?
We’ve already mentioned how recording is acceptable as long as the cameras aren’t recording private areas of the home such as the bedroom, bathroom, etc.
But what about the backyard? Is there a reasonable expectation of privacy in the backyard? Is it considered an invasion of privacy in your backyard if you’ve been recorded there?
Before we get into the details and specifics, it’s important to go over what the reasonable expectation of privacy law is.
In a nutshell, reasonable expectation of privacy is part of the fourth amendment privacy laws, which protect a person’s right to be left alone and have privacy.
Know that your neighbor has the right to put up the camera to record their property. And again, it just so happens that your backyard is in view. If you don’t have a fenced backyard, then it’s expected that that particular area in your home is viewable at any vantage point.
On the other hand, if you do have a fenced backyard and it looks like your neighbor put a camera over it to capture your backyard, then that is already illegal and you can sue your neighbor for that.
Can Neighbors Have Security Cameras Pointed Towards Your House?
Security cameras these days have been developed to work more efficiently, which is why a lot of homeowners are having them on their property. So, it’s every homeowner’s right – including yourself – to install one for security purposes.
Having said that, a neighbor’s security camera pointing at you is generally acceptable. No one is actually breaking any law here, but only if the camera is being used for its purpose and that it’s pointing in areas of your home that are viewable to the public.
For instance, your neighbor installs the camera on their property and the field of view happens to capture your front yard, front door, or driveway, then you can’t really do anything about it.
Those areas are visible to the public in the first place and you can’t expect it to be otherwise.
Having a security camera pointed at your home can also be a blessing, especially if they have your driveway or the front door in view. In the event that someone suspicious is lurking on your property, the camera can capture it.
For example, there might be a package thief who always steals your package when you’re not home. If you report it to the authorities, you will need evidence, and your neighbor’s security cam footage might just help.
You might also enjoy our post on How to Reduce Traffic Noise In My Backyard
Can My Neighbor Video Record Me on My Property?
As long as you are in plain view – doing whatever you want on your yard, front door, or porch or in the driveway, then yes, your neighbor can record you.
Your neighbor is not violating any law so it won’t help to complain about invasion of privacy. It’s a different story, however, if your neighbor records you in areas of your home where privacy is expected, such as the bathroom, washroom, and bedroom.
So let’s say, my neighbor is recording us watching a movie in the bedroom, that would be creepy and is already illegal since it’s done without our consent. Besides, the camera, in that case, may have been deliberately positioned to capture what’s inside our home.
It’s a different situation when the camera is properly positioned yet can still capture your bedroom because your bedroom happens to be viewable to the public. If you’re in that situation, would that still be considered an invasion of privacy?
Not quite, because anyone who might be passing your house can see you in the bedroom, especially if you didn’t put up any curtains. But if you are sure that your bedroom is located in a spot where only your neighbor has the field of view, then you might want to put a curtain or ask your neighbor to reposition the camera.
How the footage will be used will also be a factor in deciding whether or not the use of a security camera is lawful. What’s lawful is keeping that footage on file until it’s needed, such as being submitted as evidence in a police investigation.
What’s illegal is using the footage captured to be posted on social media for the fun of it. What’s worse is if someone uses their security cam to capture children’s bedrooms and use it online for vile purposes.
The most important thing to remember is that your neighbor should not and cannot record you in private spaces on your property. If you’re unsure and you just feel uncomfortable overall, you can always seek the help of a lawyer.
Can My Neighbor Audio Record Me on My Property?
General laws on audio recording are somewhat similar to video recording in which expectation of privacy still needs to be taken into account. Audio recording, for instance, of arguments between you and your neighbor can happen.
You might have even thought of doing that to deal with obnoxious neighbors and gather evidence against them. If the argument happened in front of your yard and either one of you wanted to record it for evidence, then no one is violating a law.
Another scenario in which audio recording on your property is considered lawful is when you and your spouse have been recorded arguing in your bedroom, for example.
Sure the bedroom is a private place but if your argument is loud enough for everyone to hear, and neighbors out in the yard happen to hear it, it’s not really a violation of the law if they audio record you.
On the other hand, there is such a thing as wiretapping law, in which it is illegal to record someone’s private conversation – whether in person, over the telephone, and – depending on the situation – if the conversation is in a public place.
Obviously, one can also be fined or jailed if they’re recording neighbors without their knowledge in their home. How else would that person be able to hear the conversation? That only means they may have used a device to be able to record what’s being said in private.
Wiretapping law may also prohibit audio recording, even if the conversation happens in a public place. For example, two people are talking lightly in the park and you decide to record them without their consent. That will be considered illegal and the degree of the punishment will vary from state to state.
You might also enjoy our post on What to Do If a Neighbor Tried to Open Your Door
Is It Legal for Neighbors to Spy on You?
Should you even equate your neighbor’s security cam as spying on you? Not really, because it only makes sense to put up a security cam in a property, especially when the neighbor is just being cautious and protecting what’s theirs. It just happens that your home is in view of the wide-angle camera lens.
But spying on a neighbor is, indeed, illegal. You will know that your neighbor has been watching you when you observe tell-tale signs. For instance, your neighbor might know things about you that they shouldn’t have known or they know a lot of stuff, like your schedule or what has been discussed the other night in your home.
If you suspect your neighbor spying on you, however, don’t jump to conclusions right away. You still have to gather proof to back your claims. One way to do that is to test if they’ve been eavesdropping.
Try coming up with a ridiculous story to tell someone over the phone. Of course, this story should be made up and only you and that other person should know. If your neighbor knows about it, then it’s proof that they’ve been spying on you.
If you wish to confront your neighbor about spying, do your homework first and make sure you have enough proof to back your claims.
You might also enjoy our post on 25 Fun Outdoor Games For Large Groups to Enjoy
What Can I Do If My Neighbor Is Recording Me?
Taking legal action may easily be the first reaction you would have if you suspect your neighbor is recording you based on the position of their security camera. However, before you do that, know that there are other ways to deal with this.
Before involving lawyers and the police, you need to understand your neighbor’s rights to install a camera to protect their property. If you are certain they don’t have ill intentions, then maybe you can just go up to them and politely ask them to reposition the camera.
If your neighbor refuses to change the camera’s position, maybe because it’s the best one for them to capture what’s going on in their property, then maybe block your view. You can do this by placing curtains, or better yet – putting up fences or hedges.
Can I Sue Someone for Recording Me Without My Permission?
The wiretapping law is put in place to protect people’s privacy in communications. Depending on where you live, the law adapts either one-party or two-party consent.
In a one-party consent, at least one of the persons involved in a private conversation should consent to recording to make the recording legal. If it’s two-party consent, both people should consent to the recording to make it lawful.
So, if someone records your conversation on your property without your permission, then you can definitely sue the person.
Surveillance Laws by State
Each state differs in its surveillance laws and it pays to know the specific laws in your resident state. This section will discuss briefly the surveillance laws in the country’s largest states by population.
Can My Neighbor Record Me on My Property in California
California law allows CCTV recording as long as the camera is not recording the inside of the home or any reasonable place where someone will expect some privacy, i.e. the bedroom, bathroom, or changing room.
It would also help to be upfront about having a security camera outside of the home. Your neighbor should also make sure their camera only captures areas in your home that are already viewable to the public.
As for audio, California adopts all-party consent, which means it’s illegal to record someone’s conversations without the knowledge of those involved in the conversation.
Can My Neighbor Record Me on My Property in Texas
The same rules in California apply to Texas, in which you don’t have legal recourse against your neighbor if they record you on your property unless the neighbor is recording you in places where you should enjoy the expectation of privacy.
Texas is a one-party consent state, in which audio recordings can only be considered lawful if at least one person involved in the conversation consents to the recording.
Can My Neighbor Record Me on My Property in Ohio
As with the two other states mentioned above, it is not illegal for someone in the state of Ohio to record you on your property, as long as you are in areas of your property viewable from public space.
If your yard is not visible to the public and the camera is pointing at it, you can politely ask your neighbor to reposition the device. If your neighbor refused, you can inform the police to help you with investigating. You can also get the help of a lawyer to figure out how to legally get the camera removed or repositioned.
As for audio recording, Ohio is a one-party consent state.
Can My Neighbor Record Me on My Property in Florida
Florida has surveillance laws similar to the abovementioned states. It’s also worth noting that it’s an all-party consent state, which means all people in a conversation should give consent to audio recording for the recording to be considered lawful.
Can My Neighbor Record Me on My Property in PA
Several police departments are actually encouraging people in PA to put up surveillance cameras for their property. However, people should make sure that they are pointing the camera to areas that are already in public view.
Pointing to private spaces in a home is breaking the Anti-Voyeurism Law and this can have legal consequences.
You might also enjoy our post on How to Keep Neighbors From Using Your Pool All the Time
Conclusion : Can My Neighbor Record Me On My Property?
You may feel uncomfortable knowing that you are being watched on your property, but the bottom line is, it’s your neighbor’s right to put a surveillance camera to protect their own property. Similarly, it’s your right to put up one too, and if you’re wondering, “can I film my neighbors,” then it’s a yes, as well.
If you don’t like how your neighbor’s camera is pointing at you, know that you can’t really do anything, especially if the camera is capturing areas on your property viewable to the public, such as the yard, backyard, front door, and driveway.
If you’re worried about the camera capturing what’s inside your home, the best remedy is to put on curtains or blinds.
If you, however, suspect being spied on or that the camera is put in place for purposes other than protecting their property, then you can call the police to investigate.