Privacy around inspection photos

Lisa asks:
(updated on Friday, May 17th 2013)

Can the property management company who cares for my properties take photos during an inspection if the tenant has concerns and has not given permission for any photos to be taken (apart from any damage that has not previously been noted)? Is this invasion of the tenant's privacy?

Our Experts Answer:

Your property manager is entitled to, and indeed should, take photos of any damage or maintenance issues during an inspection, in case of a dispute. Your property manager is also your agent and, as such, has a duty to keep you informed about any maintenance issues relating to the property. To that end it is reasonable for them to send you copies of these photos if they will help with that communication. On the other hand, a tenant has a right to privacy, and this includes a right not to have their personal possessions photographed. For example, a wide shot of a lounge that shows the tenant’s furniture and television set may be in breach of that person’s right to privacy. It is best to avoid photographing the tenant’s goods and to concentrate on close-up, detailed shots of the damage or maintenance issue. If the property manager can’t avoid photographing at least part of the tenant’s possessions it is a good idea for them to explain the purpose of the photos and to assure the tenant that they will not be used for wider distribution or advertising. Most tenants will be comfortable when given that assurance. However, it is definitely a bad idea to photograph a room for subsequent advertising, showing the tenant’s goods. Such a photograph can be an invitation to burglars!

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