Who is Watching?? That is the question recently raised by Louisiana Real Estate Commission.
With all the smart technology available today, many Lake Charles homes are now equipped with video and audio surveillance. Property owners may have video and audio cameras at their front entrances. They may also have security cameras inside the building or home, or on the perimeter of the property. For example, the Ring Doorbells have the capability to record video or audio.
Property owners certain have the right to monitor what happens within their property and signs alerting visitors acts as a good warning for would be criminals. However, in the context of selling a home, video or audio can also provide negotiating advantages to sellers: these surveillance devices may allow sellers to intercept conversations between prospective buyers and the buyer’s agent.
“I am blogging for informational purposes only and not referring to any specific circumstances or incidents.”
What does the Law Say about Video Surveillance
“Both federal and state laws apply to audio and video surveillance. Louisiana is a “one party consent” state. This means that a person may intercept communications in two instances: 1) if the person recording the communication is a party to the communication being intercepted, or 2) if the person doing the recording is not a party to the communication, one of the parties to the communication has given prior consent to the interception of the communication. However, the recording is not permitted by Louisiana law if the audio or video recording is being done for the purpose of committing a crime or a tortious act.
Louisiana law does not expressly prohibit the video recording or recording the image of someone unless that video or image is recorded without consent and the video is to be used for a lewd or lascivious purpose. Accordingly, a videotape without audio is generally permissible under Louisiana law without providing advance notice or obtaining the consent of the parties.
There are no Louisiana or Federal cases on point wherein an unsuspecting homebuyer’s conversation has been recorded and used in negotiations. There have been some cases where conversations of buyers and/or their agents are intercepted through “pocket dialing” but these cases are distinct from the issue of a property owner’s right to maintain video or audio recording on his or her property. However, out of an abundance of caution, and to avoid a potential claim that an illegal or unethical recording was made, or a claim that ethical obligations were violated intercepting conversations of buyers, homeowners may want to disclose the presence of video surveillance devices on the property to potential buyers prior to a showing of the property.” Source: Louisiana Realtors
- So what obligation, if any, does a property owner have to notify their REALTOR® of any recording or audio devices?
- What obligation, if any, does a REALTOR® have to notify potential buyers that video or audio equipment may be recording them while they are viewing a listing?
The answer is DISCLOSURE:
- When listing a Lake Charles home for sale, the Seller will be required to disclose what type of devices are within the home.
- Buyer’s Agents will notify Buyers prior to showing and have Buyers sign a written disclosure form which acknowledges that the property has video and/or audio surveillance. Although the buyer’s agent is generally not legally required to make the disclosure, as the buyer’s representative is not the one making the recording, such disclosure may help protect the agent from an allegation of an illegal or unethical recording by a client who later claimed to be unaware of a recording device.
As availability and use of technology of home audio and video systems increases, the laws around their use has struggled to keep pace. Disclosure of devices on the property is a good first step in making sure that information intended as private is not shared.