Nanny Cams and Other Devices

New York State requires home sellers to disclose if they have a nanny cam or other surveillance type of device deployed in their home for showings. Sellers do have a good reason for wanting to see and hear what the prospective buyers and their agent are doing in their home for many reasons, but the buyers also have a right to know if they can be seen and heard remotely.

We have home sellers sign a disclosure to inform them of the law which in part states:

Owners/Landlords/Property Managers are advised that it is in violation of NYS Penal Law to mechanically overhear a
conversation by having any device (or devices) recording, streaming or otherwise documenting the conversation of an
individual during real estate-related activities at the property (open houses, showings etc.) if you are not a party to that conversation. If such a device is present and operating in the property, this disclosure must be completed. Individuals entering the property will be notified that such a device is present and operating in the property. Such devices may include but are not limited to: devices used for smart homes; security; computers; web cams, nanny cams or other covert devices.

Years ago before this disclosure requirement came into play, I did have a client in a matrimonial sale hear a buyer agent share with their clients that the sellers were divorcing on the mic in the house. This was a concern for us. We acted quickly to counter the assertion in a way that appeared inadvertent and unintended.

The takeaway of course is that you don’t have this surveillance capacity anymore unless you are willing to run afoul of the law. Buyers and agents who have been furnished with disclosure will exercise more care. Not all will, but I’d say they are the exception more than the rule. We caution our buyer clients to assume the sellers can hear what we are saying in the house regardless of whether or not any disclosure was made because you just never know.

This is just another reason to be cautious overall in all facets of life during this process, because whether can can hear people speak about it or not, if they find out somehow they are almost always going to find a way to use it for the advantage. This is yet another reminder to be careful and follow best practices.

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