Many owners ask us whether they should invest in installing video cameras for surveillance of the common areas of their properties. There are two main reasons why we recommend doing so if the owners have the financial means to do so.
First, it can help in “he said/she said” litigation when sued by a tenant. About 2 years ago, one of our owners was sued by a tenant for a slip and fall accident. The complaint stated that the tenant fell on a pipe that was sticking out of the ground as a result of some left over construction at the building. We were able to go back to the video recording to the precise date and time of the alleged event and determine that the tenant/plaintiff NEVER tripped on the pipe but that he was walking nearby the pipe but actually tripped on his own luggage strap that he was pulling down the walk way wearing flip flop sandals. He never even touched the pipe and the video evidence was clear. Had we not had this video surveillance, this lawsuit could have caused our owner a lot more money in legal fees. Instead we were able to win on a motion and quickly dismiss the case.
Second, it can assist in getting out the bad tenants, especially in a Rent Controlled Los Angeles. We manage a large apartment in Korea Town, full of unsavory tenants, who stop at nothing to cause problems for the owner, run to the city for protection when the owner wants to assert his rights. In this example, we have a unit that is over crowded – 7 people living in a 1bedroom apartment. We tried everything – from raising the rents due to overcrowding to offering them money to move out (their rent was 50% below market). They fought us each time. One day we found camera footage of one of the tenants in this unit entering into a vacant unit and stealing the owner’s microwave. This was slam-dunk evidence of theft. We immediately filed a police report and gave them a 3 Day Notice to Quit (no curing option). They attempted to fight it with the city, but the video evidence supported our case and ultimately they were forced to vacate and turn over possession of the property. We renovated the unit and put it on the market at market rent!
These are two strong examples of why if owners of Los Angeles Rent Controlled apartments can afford to install video cameras on their property, how it can be used to protect owners’ interests in their properties.