Seller’s Video Surveillance of Unsuspecting Buyers

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Is that allowed?

Is that legal?

It doesn’t seem fair!

Recent Controversy

Recently, a homeowner who wished to sell their property thought that they would help out their own real estate agent. There was an open house. One of the prospective buyers seemed to have trouble operating the stove.

The Listing Agent who happened to be hosting the open house had no idea about this, and was rather shocked when contacted by the Seller with their offer of assistance.

The Seller explained that they had a video camera operating. It was unknown to everyone in the house at the time. It revealed the video which illustrated the Buyer’s difficulty, and recorded audio which exclaimed the Buyer’s frustration. Accordingly, the Seller to the rescue!

Seller’s Reasons and Justification for Video Surveillance

From the Seller’s perspective:

  • It’s my house
  • I can do what I want
  • I don’t need anyone’s permission
  • I want to record any thefts,
  • I want to record any invasion of my privacy (going through private papers)
  • Also, I like to hear what people think
  • If they don’t like the colour of the kitchen, maybe I’ll paint it
  • If they don’t like the furniture, maybe I’ll stage it
  • If they think there’s too much stuff, maybe I’ll declutter it
  • And, maybe they will say something out loud which will tell me have badly they want the property and how much they are prepared to pay
  • In addition, I could hear the plot to reattend, break in, steal all my jewellery; this tape will definitely help thwart that theft.

Seller’s Steps to Record Using Various Recoding Devices

Here are some comments from the Seller:

  • I just left the regular safety and security camera going.
  • I never even thought to turn it off.
  • I didn’t even think about it. I turned it on just before Christmas and I haven’t touched it since. It runs 24/7.
  • I just left my cellphone on record mode in the Master Bedroom. People shouldn’t even been in there, that’s my space.
  • I set up a couple of recording devices strategically throughout the house. Actually, they are baby monitors which we had leftover. Naturally, they are concealed inside of “teddy bears”. But, most people should know that.
  • It’s a big camera, it was turned “on”, the red light was visible, and it was sitting on top of a tripod in the front hall; who could miss it?

Seller’s Right to Install Video Surveillance

In order to get started in the first place, all we need is “permission” from the Owner or Occupant of the location. Most of the time, we will easily get to the first step. Unfortunately, for some Sellers, that’s the only question that they ask.

Naturally, this can be “invasive” to the Buyer if they expected “privacy”.

As time goes by, increasingly, Buyers are warned by their own agents to keep quiet because they might be under surveillance. The expectation of “privacy” now that a person is out in “public”, is largely gone. You are on camera, don’t forget to smile!

Brian Madigan LL.B., Broker

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