Australian estate agents wear body cameras during home inspections as a security measure against ‘difficult’ tenants
- Some real estate agents wear body cameras
- Cameras used as a security measure during inspections
- Some tenants fear the cameras will violate privacy
Estate agents have resorted to wearing body cameras to protect themselves from potentially disgruntled tenants.
The drastic step comes as soaring rents and low property vacancy rates strain already strained relations between tenants and property managers.
Queensland-based 360 Property Management Mackay has already rolled out the changes.
Office manager and sales agent Adele Crocker has decided that her staff will wear body cameras during inspections of tenants’ homes.
Ms Crocker decided on the security measure after one of her officers was trapped inside a property after a tenant refused to let her out.
Some Australian estate agents are now wearing body cameras during routine home inspections as part of a safety measure to deter potentially disgruntled tenants (file image, couple viewing an apartment)
“After that, we had a great discussion about workplace safety and how we can all feel safer walking into the house of what are essentially strangers,” Ms Crocker said. news.com.au.
Current tenants have been told that property managers will be wearing body cameras as part of their personal protective equipment, while new tenants will be told at the start of their tenancy.
Body cameras will be turned on at the start of the inspection – when an officer enters the house – with the images uploaded and stored on a database.
Ms Crocker added that the images are stored for a short time and if nothing happens during the visit, they are then deleted.
She added that the majority of tenants viewed the security measure as “important” and were “surprised” that the agency had not implemented the policy sooner.
However, the agency has received negative written and verbal responses to the security policy claiming that body cameras violate their privacy.
Ms Crocker said staff were “very conscious” of their tenants’ privacy, but believed the cameras act as a deterrent to tenants attacking staff.
“If someone was upset, the camera may very well be a visual deterrent to get upset with staff and instead wait for them to leave, then maybe phone in with their concerns,” Ms. Crocker said.
“If walking into a stranger’s home with a camera on gives that sense of security, with or without incident, then we’re doing our job right.”
The managing director of OBrien Real Estate in Victoria, Darren Hutchins, said his team of property managers did not use body cameras, but employed other security measures.
Body cameras are turned on at the start of the inspection when an officer enters the house, with the images being downloaded and stored in a database for a short time (body camera image)
360 Property Management office manager and business agent Mackay Adele Crocker said the policy was implemented after a tenant locked a property manager in a house and refused to let her go.
Mr Hutchins explained that property managers have a ‘safety app’ on their phone and are advised to take a support person or team member with them if they feel a conflict or a problem may occur.
He added that incidents between agents and tenants have occurred but are “very rare”, saying that when respect is shown to a tenant, it is “usually given” to staff.
When it comes to body cams and privacy, there is no general “right” to privacy that is enforceable under Australian law.
There is no legal objection to someone taking a photo or video footage of something they can capture from where they are standing as long as they are in a public space.
An individual can object to the images provided they were captured in a non-public space, including a place owned by a person, government department or business.
However, the law gets complicated when it comes to property managers entering a tenant’s home for an inspection.
The property manager, in a legal sense, is an agent of the landlord and therefore not considered an ordinary member of the public, just as the tenant is not considered to “own” the space.