Reader Questions – My Peeping Doorbell Camera, and Where is MY Parking Space?

h o a homefront reader questions Aug 16, 2021

By Kelly G. Richardson, Esq. CCAL


Because of the type of work I do at home, I was required to install a security system in my condominium including a front door camera.  My neighbor across the walkway is captured daily in recordings which show numerous occasions of various at-home liaisons with persons who are not his wife, and on other occasions coming home intoxicated.  Should I share these videos with the HOA?  Is my camera an invasion of his privacy? Unfortunately, because of proximity and motion detection I cannot reduce the range of the video.  Am I liable if I ignore what the camera records?  Would the HOA be liable if he gets into an auto accident while drunk? JP, San Diego


Dear J.P.:

The advent of low-cost “doorbell” or other internet-connected security cameras has created a new set of privacy concerns. These cameras record not only high-quality video, but also conversations of persons having no idea that their conversations are being overheard and recorded. Some of my clients have adopted rules regarding such cameras, restricting cameras from monitoring neighboring back yards or windows in their view. I think most would agree that there is no expectation of privacy in common area walkways or hallways, but if you shared videos of your neighbor’s activities it might be considered an invasion of his privacy (as to his comings and goings). I do not think you have a duty to share the videos with anyone unless they record a crime, in which case you should report the incident to law enforcement. I cannot conceive of a way in which the HOA could be liable for not stopping a resident from drinking and driving, since the HOA probably does not have the power to do so. 

Best regards, Kelly


Dear Mr. Richardson: Can the Board ignore the CC&Rs? The CC&Rs say that each lot comes with a parking space, and the association has permanently assigned one parking space for each owner, but due to poor structural design, my designated parking space is unusable due to impossible access for a medium-sized vehicle. I asked the board to designate me another space and was rejected. What to do? In fairness to the Board, I think remedying the problem would cost the association several thousand dollars.  

Best Regards, P.F., Marin County


Dear P.F.:

CC&Rs are the top governing document, and all the other governing documents must give way to the CC&Rs, per Civil Code Section 4205. CC&Rs must not conflict with state law and are essentially an agreement binding all homeowners together. Associations are expected to obey the governing documents and to consistently apply them, or could be in breach of those documents. So, hopefully the board will consult the HOA’s lawyer to determine if the HOA is required to make sure you have a functional space. However, you may not be informed of the advice, since legal advice given to the board is typically considered confidential and therefore not shared with all owners.

I frequently see garages that are too small for larger passenger cars, or driveways that are too short for normal cars to park in the driveway without blocking the sidewalk. These design errors can often bedevil the board and management as they hopefully seek practical resolution of these problems.

Thanks for your question, Kelly