Ken Twyman is frustrated with the province’s legislation around tenants installing security cameras in their rented homes.
Twyman lives in the Cowichan Valley in a rented home with his elderly parents, including his 90-year-old war veteran stepfather who has Alzheimer’s disease.
He said his stepfather has a tendency to wander, a common symptom of Alzheimer’s, so he installed a number of security cameras so he could monitor him and know which direction he was heading in if he went missing.
Twyman didn’t inform his landlord about the cameras because he didn’t think he needed permission, but the landlord was quite adamant about them being taken down, and the law was on his side.
Twyman said he made some phone calls to some provincial agencies and did some research and found that the legislation around security cameras in homes and the rights of tenants is quite broad and not easily defined.
“It appears that landlords can put up security cameras on their rental properties without getting the tenants’ permission, regardless of the invasion of privacy, but tenants have to get permission,” he said.
“If that’s the case, then the legislation should be changed.”
Robert Patterson, a lawyer with the province’s Tenant Resource & Advisory Centre, said the question of tenants’ rights when it comes to installing security cameras is a complex one, and there’s very little in the Residential Tenancy Act around such issues.
He said the act contains a section describing what landlords can and can’t do with regards to security cameras, but not tenants.
“It seems in this case that the tenant has a compelling reason to install security cameras, but they can’t cover common areas and neighbours’ yards, for example,” Patterson said.
“If that was done, it could be considered an unreasonable intrusion upon privacy, but it’s a grey area in the act as to the tenants’ rights.”
Patterson said if tenants are ordered by their landlords to take down security cameras and they feel that they have a good reason to have them up and are not intruding on other people’s privacy, they could apply to dispute it and an arbitrator from the Residential Tenancy Branch might be appointed to hear the case.
“This tenant seems to have a reasonable argument that security cameras should not be prohibited in this case, but you never know what an arbitrator will find and rule on,” he said.