Landlord’s ‘spy camera’ leads to $10M law case

If you were suspicious about the activities of your tenants or wanted to confirm information that they were hesitant about providing, how would you go about it?

One way we wouldn’t advise is via a spy-cam, hidden away in the rental property. That’s what New York landlord Chaim Babad did when he wanted to confirm whether the property was his tenant’s primary residence, and now it’s landed him in court with a $10M law suit for invasion of privacy.

This issue of tenancy privacy and a landlord’s right of entry is adequately covered by law. A landlord cannot enter the premises just to check up on a tenant. If the landlord continues to do this, the tenant may be able to break the lease and move out. The tenant can claim that the landlord’s repeated violation of their privacy is a constructive eviction.  If the landlord’s conduct is interfering with the tenant’s peace of mind, the tenant may be able to sue the landlord in small claims court as well.

It is considered an illegal eviction for a landlord to do a self-help eviction, meaning taking matters into their own hands and locking a tenant out, changing locks or turning off utilities because a tenant did something the landlord thinks is outrageous or the tenant has not paid their rent. Landlords could find themselves in a lot of trouble legally if they do so due to eviction law.