Nabbing a rental property in the current market is a huge win for most tenants but one Aussie mum's excitement has been dimmed by an obtrusive surveillance camera hanging above her kitchen – a constant remainder of a potential breach of her residential tenancy rights.
"We are a very private family so this is extremely frightening for us knowing we are being watched," the tenant told Yahoo News Australia.
"She [the agent] assured me, 'It’s not active and can only be activated by the person who has their Wi-Fi connected to it'," she explained.
However the woman is far from convinced. "I’m actually feeling extremely overwhelmed and unsafe," she admitted.
The tenant alleges the real estate agent does not know who installed the surveillance camera but they did repeatedly reassure her the camera was not active, with the tenant receiving an email on Sunday with instructions on how to uninstall the device.
"Here are the instructions to reset the security system back to factory settings so no one else has access," the email reads.
Cameras in rental property are 'illegal'
Despite it being undetermined whether the real estate agent or landlord has access to the camera or not, any kind of surveillance inside a rental property is "illegal", according to a property law expert.
"I'm not a privacy expert, but in terms of property law, someone using a camera in that situation would be something called a breach of quiet enjoyment," Dr Vanessa Johnston told Yahoo News Australia last month when discussing another Victorian tenant's experience with a surveillance camera inside their rental.
"So in every lease, including in standard residential leases, the landlord has an obligation to provide quiet enjoyment."
Landlords or real estate agents having surveillance access inside a rental property highlights "serious privacy issues" and breaches the tenant's rights to have the property "exclusively" to themselves.
"So being surveilled all the time is not exclusive possession, it's not actually what they've been granted. So it's a breach of quiet enjoyment," Dr Johnston explained.
In May another Queensland tenant voiced concern online about privacy breaches when she was informed her real estate would inspect her rental wearing a body cam.
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