How Landlords Can Use Videotape Recordings in Summary Proceedings
Videotape recordings can be used as an element of proof in a non-primary residence or nuisance claim in a summary proceeding. Landlords should review the following issues when considering videotape recordings as a way to prepare and prove their case(s):
(A) The Time period of recordings – The relevant time to record is prior to the date of the commencement of a summary proceeding. Recordings should be obtained prior to the date stated in the predicate notice and notice of petition. Any videotapes obtained subsequent to the date in the petition may be deemed irrelevant by the Court.
(B) Placement of the camera – The camera should be placed in an area outside the apartment where the landlord will obtain optimal visuals in a common or public area in the subject building. The recordings must be clear and unobstructed. The camera should not record the inside of the tenant’s apartment. Cameras are usually placed in the hallway facing the door of the subject apartment and in the lobby of the subject building.
(C) Person(s) responsible for reviewing and logging recordings – The landlord should hire a reputable investigative firm or an independent person to review and log the videotape recordings. This person or company should be familiar with giving testimony in court and should provide highlights of relevant recordings. This will direct a judge to the portion of the recordings that is most beneficial to the property owner.
(D) Continuous v. motion-sensitive videotape recording – Continuous recording is not the most effective method of recording. Videotape recordings controlled by sensors are the most practical methods of recording, because they only record if there is motion in front of the camera. Most judges do not have time to review hundreds of hours of recordings.
(E) Costs of videotaping – The total cost of videotape recording and hiring of the recording company or individual to log and testify in court may be expensive. However, the investment may be well worth in terms of the evidentiary advantage it will provide in proving your case. Remember, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” In the end, the importance in regaining legal possession of a regulated apartment should be factored into the costs of obtaining videotape recording evidence. Videotape recordings can be very helpful in non-primary residence and nuisance holdover summary proceedings.