A frustrated renter is at odds with her neighbour whose home security camera allegedly looks directly into the bedrooms and the bathroom of her home.
Mollie and her mum moved into the Melbourne property in early August and brought up the issue within two weeks. But now, almost four months later, the man next door is "refusing" to remove them.
"It's all very frustrating. [We believe] he can see everything we do in those rooms," Mollie from Carrum Downs told Yahoo News Australia. "We both feel really intimidated by him. We can't use one side of the house without feeling uncomfortable. We have to have the blinds down during the day so that the camera can't get a view of us."
Neighbour 'refuses' to move camera
When she first approached the neighbour, Mollie requested he remove the camera or move it lower so that it was below the fence line. The homeowner has multiple cameras at the front of his house, Mollie said, but it's the one down the side that's proving troublesome.
"He said he would look into it. Then about two months later I asked him again and he said it was his right to have the camera up, and that it was our problem and not his," she claimed. She even contacted the police who suggested she apply for a personal safety intervention order (PSIO) — a court order to protect her privacy — but she says "the magistrate's court refused and denied the order".
"I've also spoken to the local council and they have said it's a police matter," she said. "I spoke to legal aid and they said I would need to work with a private solicitor, which I can not afford."
What does the law say?
Tenant advocate and qualified lawyer Jordan van den Berg said there are some steps that Mollie can take, and told Yahoo there are strict laws about a person's right to privacy.
Under section 7 of Victoria's Surveillance Devices Act 1999, it's an offence if a person "knowingly installs, uses or maintains an optical surveillance device to record visually or observe a private activity to which the person is not a party, without the express or implied consent of each party to the activity".
"If the police refuse to take action on a matter the renter may seek assistance from the Victorian Ombudsman, or reach out to a community legal centre like Tenants Victoria for some advice on the next steps," van den Berg added.
But Dr Rocco Loiacono from Curtain Law School told Yahoo, that "unless the police have evidence of use of the camera by its owner for nefarious purposes, there really isn’t scope for them to intervene."
Tenant desperate for help
Frustrated and desperate for help, Mollie took to Facebook this week. "Does anyone know what to do?" she asked in the Don't Rent Me group created by van den Berg. She also claimed her neighbour has now installed floodlights that "come into our room".
Many agreed "this is not okay" and urged her to follow up with Victoria Police again. While others suggested, "it's possible it's positioned in a way that makes it seem it's looking in there, but actually isn't." Some suggested curtains or a darker window tint which could help offer her some privacy.
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