Can My Neighbor Legally Point a Security Camera at My Property?

What level of privacy you can expect regarding neighbor's cameras depends largely on the law in your state.

By , Attorney · Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law

It can be uncomfortable to discover that a neighbor has set up security cameras around their house, whose lenses appear to point at areas of your property, such as the backyard. Is this illegal, or an invasion of privacy? That's what this article will discuss.

What to Do If You See a Camera Trained on Your Backyard

First, give your neighbor a chance to explain. Write a note, or knock on the door. Assume the best, as in: "It seem to me you have a camera pointed right into my backyard! I'm sure you didn't even realize, but would you mind shifting it in another direction?"

This provides an opportunity for your neighbor to explain their apparent distrust. Does he mistakenly believe you stole something from him? Or does he mistakenly believe you are, or a member of your household is engaged in dangerous or illegal activities? Use this conversation to address not just the camera itself, but to explore your neighbor's underlying intentions. Perhaps his conduct will make sense once he explains his rationale.

If he does refuse to move the camera after the request or your invitation to dialogue, consider self-help options. Perhaps planting trees or shrubs will help, once they grow to block the view of his cameras. Similarly, you might install a tall lattice fence that will give your backyard some needed cover. (Just make sure it's not tall enough to violate local ordinances or qualify as a "spite fence.")

If you are still not able to block the camera, you might want to call an attorney. Different states have different laws regarding surveillance.

In some states, mere visual recording is not illegal so long as the camera is on your neighbor's property. In other states, visual recording is acceptable but any audio recording is not. And in other states, all forms of recording might face criminal or civil penalties. Generally, any publicly viewable areas like back yards are fair game, which is how companies like Google can record their Street View images across the United States.

Regardless, a demand letter from an attorney might light the necessary fire under your neighbor to convince him that you will not submit to his unwarranted snooping, even if you would not ultimately proceed to court with such a claim.

Talk to a Lawyer

Need a lawyer? Start here.

How it Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you
Get Professional Help

Talk to a Real Estate attorney.

How It Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you