Security vs. Privacy Striking the Balance in Co-ops and Condos

For time immemorial, the home has been synonymous with warmth, comfort and, most importantly, safety. The boards and managers who oversee co-op and condominium communities are aiming to preserve this image by ensuring that safety is their top priority, and that residents should harbor no fear in regard to their well-being, or the well-being of their families and property.

Of course, there must remain a line between a resident's safety and an intrusion upon a resident's privacy, of which a board or management must constantly be aware. With the broad range of technological options available today that purport to monitor and secure properties, their continual evolution is bound to stir up questions regarding privacy. But, for many communities, those issues are outweighed by a desire to have as many safeguards in place as possible.

A Watchful Eye

The ways in which co-op and condo communities approach security have changed over the years, moving from a reliance on security guards and regular patrols to more access control and visual monitoring. The days wherein a manager would hire a private investigator to sit outside and watch a building's entrance for riff-raff are long gone. And while concierges and security guards are still prevalent in New York City buildings, cameras do the heavy lifting when it comes to security monitoring.

The growth in the popularity of cameras can be heavily attributed to the increase of affordable technology in the marketplace, as well as their expanding functionality. "Cameras are on the rise, and, on quite a few occasions, I've been contacted by law enforcement, asking to view footage," says Jay Cohen, director of operations at A. Michael Tyler Realty Corp., a management company in Manhattan. "Oftentimes, they're quite successful in helping to apprehend a criminal because they're able to capture a very clear image of the perpetrator." Crimes prevented by providing police access to clear camera footage have included thefts, assaults, vandalism, and worse.

And the signs indicating that an area is being monitored can be a deterrent on their own. Dean Roberts, an attorney with the law firm of Norris McLaughlin & Marcus, P.A., with offices in Manhattan, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, notes that "while most people [who have nothing with which to be concerned] quickly forget that they are being taped, people inclined to do damage or otherwise misbehave in common areas are much more aware that they're being watched, and thereby refrain from doing anything nefarious in videotaped areas."


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  • I've read all the security articles & learned quite a bit. However, I cannot find anything that relates to my issue. Specifically, a person walking a dog allowed the dog to defecate right in front of the main building door. When I returned from walking my dog, I picked it up & threw it away. I asked Management to view the video so the offending person could be identified. They did so & advised me that the person enters the cameras view but never turns her face. The dog does his business & she walks away. They could not identify her. I asked what type of dog it was & they replied, small & maybe white& brown. I then asked to see the video because, as a dog owner, I meet many dogs & their owners during my walks & that I might recognize the dog. I was told that, by state (or city) law, no shareholders are allowed to view the videos. Is this an accurate statement?
  • That's a good question Ginny. I'd be interested to hear who is allowed to view.
  • I also am concerned that most if not all cameras are being used against us. I live in a coop and am allowed NO ACCESS is that allowed in a shared expense community? Due to bad behavior on the part of the BOD and management I have been forced to install my OWN cameras to prevent slander and decimation of my person. There is no doubt George Orwell’s 1984 is here...sigh
  • The security lighting at my front door (with direct access to the street) has been mostly disfunctional for the past few years. I am trying to find legal standing to support this basic safety feature as a responsibility of the coop