– Crystal Vagnier – Select Group – Writer/Editor
When visiting an open-house or viewing a home-for-sale it is important to remember that at any given moment your conversations may be monitored by a hidden camera. Homeowners have the legal right and responsibility to privately observe their property, and each state has their own laws regarding recording statutes. Sellers are motivated to maintain surveillance on their own belongings and home, especially when strangers are visiting.
In California, the law dictates that residents are allowed to install cameras that cover areas that can be legally observed from their property. Videotaping public areas are fair-game. Areas considered private aren’t up for grabs though, for example, your neighbor’s backyard, bedrooms, or bathrooms, as to protect everyone’s rights. As for audio, California is an “All-Party” state meaning that all parties must first consent to a recording. Any audio recording without signed waivers from both parties is illegal. The law states that it is illegal to make any audio recording of “confidential communication” without a two-party consent. Although, any conversation that occurs at a public gathering where being overheard may be expected is not covered by this statute.
Nevada’s laws are fairly similar. Functioning within a “one-party consent” statute, meaning individuals can record conversations without informing other parties, the Supreme Court has actually interpreted Nevada’s statute as an “all-party” rule, so consent of all parties is legally required. Nevada’s legislature breaks the statutes into two categories: conversations recorded via wire communication, like a telephone call, and the recording of private conversations not via wire, for example, an in-person conversation. Nevada places a higher burden upon recording any conversation over the wires rather than in-person. Another possible loophole to the “two-party consent” is if any prior consent was given by one of the parties. Long story short: if a conversation is private and in-person it is legal to record as long as one party is aware. It is illegal if it is private and via wire, like a telephone, and without an all-party consent.
What You Should Do
1. Agents should always assume there is a surveillance camera in every home they visit.
2. Caution clients to hold private conversations until they are outside the home. Remain mindful of your conduct around the property.
3. Monitor the actions of clients within the home.
4. Advise homeowners to post a surveillance sign on their property.