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Juliana, Attorney
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Experience:  23 years of experience; former prosecutor, magistrate, child support attorney
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Does Tennessees Peeping Tom statute prevent the use of video

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Does Tennessee's Peeping Tom statute prevent the use of video surveillance in rental units where notice is given and cameras are not located in bedrooms or bathrooms?



Thanks for your question.


Tennessee's "Peeping Tom" laws are found in Title 39, Chapter 13, part 6 of the Tennessee Code. The type of surveillance you are referring to would fall under either subsection 605, which pertains to unlawful photographing in violation of privacy:


or subsection 607, which pertains to observation without consent:


Basically, it is an offense to photograph/view a person where he/she has a reasonable expectation of privacy without first obtaining his/her prior effective consent, and also, the photography/viewing must not


1) offend or embarass an ordinary person if the person knew the person was being viewed, and

2) be for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification of the defendant.


Also, if the person being viewed/photographed is a minor, the law is violated regardless of whether his/her parents' consent is first obtained.


I can foresee a lot of potential problems with installing video surveillance equipment in rental units. For instance, even though you may have obtained the tenant's consent to view/photograph him, each time a tenant has a guest in his/her rental unit, you will likewise have to obtain the consent of that guest before filming. And, if a minor child is involved, either living in the unit or visiting as a guest, you will never be able to film when that child is present due to the fact that a parent or guardian can never give consent for him/her to be filmed.


So basically, so long as you are in compliance with the law with respect to prior consent, you are not forbidden from installing cameras in rental units, but again, there are likely to be some problems.


Hope this helps.




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Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Juliana - I am assumming that video taping and surveillance are considered alike. Video surveillance only activates recording when an alarm event occurs. It is primarily installed to protect the premises from burgulary. Normally it is vewiable from a remote location so if the user had the intent and time to watch they certainly could. They could also leave the recording device on at all times. Based on your answer it still seems unadvisable to install the equipment on the interior of rental units, however are there any limitations with respect to installing them on the outside of the unit? Thanks.

Thanks for the accept, and also for the bonus!


I just tried to go back to the statutes with the links I've cited in my previous post, but they both took me to the main statutory database for Tennessee, instead of to the individual statutes. If that's what happens when you try to view theses statutes, here is what you'll need to do: click on either link in my previous post, then go to "Title 39, Criminal Offenses," then to "Chapter 13, Offenses Against the Person," then "Part 6, Invasion of Privacy," and you'll see the individual statutes there. You can take a look at the statute that's captioned "Wiretapping and electronic surveillance - prohibited acts" which is 39-13-601, but, I think the other two statutes (605 and 607) are more pertinent to what you've described.


The Tennessee statutes define "photograph" as "any photograph or photographic reproduction, still or moving, or any videotape or live television transmission of any individual," which encompasses most any type of image you'd make of an individual, so I think "videotaping" and "surveillance" would both be included under the term "photograph" for purposes of these statutes.


While I wouldn't advise placing your cameras inside of the rental units, there wouldn't appear to be any problem with placing them outside the units. There is no reasonable expectation to privacy in the areas outside of the units (common areas), whereas inside, there would be this expectation, and that is the focal point of these statutes -- reasonable expectation to privacy.


Hope this helps. Good luck.


Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Thanks so much Juliana
You are quite welcome! Have a great weekend!

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