Q: Can I prohibit my tenants from using doorbells that also serve as video cameras and/or can I ban alarms in my property?
A: You are free to put in any prohibition into your lease, provided it doesn’t violate a local or federal law. Most often, you would have to make sure you aren’t violating the Residential Landlord Tenant Act or Fair Housing Laws. If you do not want to allow doorbells that take video or alarm systems, you likely can do this. Please note that if you ban such technology, and a unit is broken into, I would suspect that an attorney would argue that by prohibiting such things, the owner should be liable. They would attempt to argue that the doorbell or the alarm would have been a deterrent for the intruder. This doesn’t mean the case would be successful, but even the attorney’s fees for having to fight this case would be significant. Of course, a landlord doesn’t have to allow a tenant to drill into the wall, but with wireless technology, there is very little damage, if any, to the unit. A landlord would be wise to identify the real reason they are not allowing such technology, before prohibiting it in a lease. Also, if it is not clearly spelled out in a lease, it is likely allowed by law.
By Mark B. Zinman, Zona Law Group