A Guide on Security Cameras & Surveillance on Residential Rental Properties

Table of Contents

Did you know that security cameras can boost residential safety by 300%? Because this figure is so high, it’s important that you invest in rental surveillance equipment ASAP.

Here, we’re going to discuss the ins and outs of security cameras on rental properties. Read on to learn how they can protect both yourself and your tenants with this equipment.

Is It Legal to Put Security Cameras on Residential Properties?

In DC, Maryland, and Virginia, it is legal to put security cameras on residential rental properties. However, there are some restrictions in place to protect tenant privacy.

You cannot place cameras in individual units where tenants live. This is a breach of their reasonable right to privacy since they will be engaging in personal and private activities. Additionally, you cannot place cameras in bathrooms and locker rooms if your apartment has public amenities.

Any other common area (such as a gym, sitting room, or common outdoor spaces) is fair game for security cameras. The only law surrounding this is to clearly provide those on the property that they are being recorded.

A sign on your front door will work, as will making cameras clearly visible and placing signs beside them informing people that they are recording. These signs may also deter crime in and of themselves. If your camera or signage is obstructed, you may find yourself in trouble if taken to court.

How Can Security Camera Footage Keep Tenants Safe?

While you may worry that tenants will be unhappy to have security cameras on their properties, capturing footage actually helps to protect tenants as well as landlords.

Make sure you stress that the cameras are not there to violate their privacy or “catch” them for suspected breaches of their leases. Instead, explain that security cameras can help to keep both them and their property safe.

Security cameras let burglars and other criminals know that they’re on camera. This makes them aware that they could be caught committing a crime on your property. This in and of itself serves as a deterrent to crime.

In fact, about 60% of burglars would seek an alternative target if there was a chance that there was an alarm or camera on the door. Additionally, most burglars try to break into homes by forcing doors and windows open, which are common areas where you can put cameras.

Tenants are safer from break-ins, but they also are safer from violent crime. If people see a camera, they will not attempt to assault tenants that they otherwise would have. You also greatly decrease the chances of extreme crimes like rape and murder.

How Does Security Footage Benefit Property Managers?

Tenant safety is a primary concern with security cameras. However, in the event that an incident does occur, security cameras can also protect you as a landlord.

If someone breaks into your rental property, security footage can quickly help you identify the assailant. Law enforcement agencies will have an easier time locating the perpetrator and making an arrest. You and your tenants will get faster justice and recover lost property more easily.

Advanced security cameras can also notify you of potential criminal activity as it occurs. You can get notifications on your smartphone when the camera picks up on something suspicious. This gives you the chance to call the police before the crime is even completed- an on-site arrest is possible.

This is because you can quickly catch perpetrators and the insurance company can quickly get their money back, so they’re willing to give some cash to you for taking preventative measures.

What Are the Best Security Cameras for Landlords?

Security cameras aren’t one-size-fits-all. There are several features that a landlord may look for in equipment, including:

  • High-definition video capture (generally the critical baseline requirement)
  • Night vision
  • Low-light recording capabilities
  • Remote monitoring via smartphones and tablets
  • Triggered activation of alarms that alert landlords and call authorities
  • Motion-activation
  • Facial recognition for access to footage
  • Instant cloud storage of footage

There are many excellent brands that you can choose from. Battery-operated Nest Cam cameras are a great choice, and you can get them with floodlights attached. Blink Outdoor wireless cameras and Wyze Cam wired cameras also work well.

Make sure to hire a great property management company to help you select a camera that meets your needs.

How to Install Rental Surveillance Equipment

Speaking of professional property management, these individuals can help you with the camera installation process. They can find experts to ensure that the cameras are set up with all of their best features. Tests to make sure that they work properly are also possible when you work with experts.

The best property leasing and management company has 15 years of experience. You can rest easy knowing that you’re hiring someone who knows the ins and outs of tenant and landlord safety.

Nomadic Real Estate can help you install cameras almost immediately. Our client-centric operations often necessitate same-day responsiveness, so we’re always online. We also are happy to communicate transparently about the installation at all times.

Protect Yourself and Your Tenants Today

Finding and installing the best security cameras for rental properties can be a challenge for landlords. However, it’s essential because it keeps tenants safe from both nonviolent and violent crime. Now that you understand how to choose and install cameras, it’s time to get started.

Nomadic Real Estate is committed to answering any property management questions that you may have as a landlord. We also can help you find new leasing opportunities and perform preventative maintenance on existing properties. Contact us today to get started!

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Enhanced Reporting

Your portal includes a selection of extremely useful reports. Reports are available in the “Reports” section, and are distinct from the financial statements. Unlike financial statements which are static records, Reports are dynamic real-time records that will update with current data every time you view them. 

Scroll down to learn more about Reports:

Navigate to the "Reports" module in your portal:

Owner Portal Reports
  • Keep in mind, these reports are dynamic records. They will refresh to display current information every time you view them. 

Enhanced Rent Roll Report:

Enhanced Rent Roll Report
  • The Enhanced Rent Roll Report will show the rent amount, last payment date, move-in date, lease expiration date, and security deposit amount for each of your tenants. 
  • It will also show a portfolio summary with occupancy percentage, vacancy loss, and more!

Unit Comparison Report:

Unit Comparison Report
  • If you own multiple units (or buildings) with Nomadic, you’ll get access to the Unit Comparison Report. 
  • This report enables you to quickly compare financial performance between your units at a glance without toggling between individual reports. 

Income Statement Month-Over-Month:

Income Statement by Month Report
  • The Income Statement Detail – Monthly Report serves as a month-over-month record of portfolio performance. You’ll see itemized income and expense categories and can track monthly. This report will update with fresh data every time you view it. 

Financial Statements

Financial statements will be published to your portal on a monthly basis. The statements are found in your Documents library, and provide a historical record of all financial performance. The statements serve as a snapshot of financial performance over a given period, and are static documents (unlike Reports, the statements do not update/change in real-time). 

Scroll down for more info about the Financial Statements in your Documents library:

The Documents area contains monthly financial statements:

Owner Portal Documents
  • The statements in the Documents are are static documents. They are posted to the portal once a month to serve as a historical record of financial performance. 

Download a statement to see month and YTD financials:

Owner Portal Property Statement

You'll also find a month-over-month operating statement:

Month over Month Statement

Portal Communication Tool

You can use your owner portal to communicate with our team. Any messages you send through the portal will go straight to your Account Manager. When we reply, you’ll get an email notification and you’ll also see the message in your portal next time you log in. 

Here’s an overview of using the communication platform:

Click "Communications" and navigate to "Conversations":

Commincation Dashboard Screenshot
  • The communications module will contain a record of all messages that you create through the portal. 

Click the "New Message" button and send your message:

Owner Portal New Message Screenshot

Responses will show up in the conversation ticket:

Portal Conversation Response Screenshot
  • You’ll get an email notification whenever you get a response, and you’ll also see the message in your portal next time you log in. 

You can reply in-line using the comment box:

Owner Portal Comment

Each conversation will be logged in its entirety:

Portal Conversation Snapshot

Understanding the Ledger

Your portal includes a ledger with all transactions. The ledger is populated with data in real-time as transactions flow through our accounting software. Much of this information is also available in the Reports area, as well as the Statements in your Documents library, but the ledger is the most comprehensive resource for diving into the details. 

Please scroll through the sections below to get a better understanding of how to interpret the ledger. 

By default, transactions are sorted chronologically:

Owner Ledger Dates
  • The date reflected in the lefthand column is the actual transaction date, not the “bill date”. This is the date the transaction was actually processed. 

If you have multiple properties with Nomadic, you'll see the address for each transaction in the "Location" column:

Ledger Property Column
  • You can filter the ledger to look at just one property, all properties, or specific sets of properties. 
  • If you only have one property with us, you’ll just see the ledger for that property. 

The Description column displays the transaction type:

Owner Ledger Description Column
  • BILL: this is an expense transaction, such as for repair costs or management fees.
  • CHARGE: this is a transaction  billed to the tenant, most typically a rent payment. 
  • NACHA EXPORT: this is a credit we processed to your distribution account. This type of transaction is how you get paid! 

The Amount column shows the dollar value of each transaction:

Owner Ledger Amount Column
  • Positive Amounts: if an amount is positive, it reflects a transaction that is payable to you. Typically, this will be a rent payment that we collected from your tenants. On occasion, a positive number could also signify a journal entry or credit adjustment. 
  • Negative Amounts:  if an amount is negative, this is a transaction that is either payable to Nomadic or is an amount that has already been paid to you. Typically this will be for repair costs or management/leasing fees. Owner draws (net distributions into your checking/savings account) also reflect as negative amounts, since they have already been paid to you. 

The Account Balance column shows a sum of positive/negative transactions at a given point in time:

Owner Ledger Account Balance Column
  • Account Balance should always equal zero after a net distribution has been processed. When the balance is zero, this means that all expenses have been paid and you’ve received the remainder as net operating income, leaving a balance of zero (meaning: no one is due any money, as all funds have been distributed appropriately). 

Navigating the Propertyware Owner Portal

Your portal includes some extremely useful features that help you understand your property’s financial performance at a new level, with real-time transparency into every transaction.

Scroll through the snapshots below for an overview of portal navigation! If you need more help or have specific questions about using the portal, you can reach out to your Account Manager any time for a screen share. 

You can filter all info by date range or property:

PW Portal Filters

View a snapshot of income and expenses on your dashboard:

PW Owner Dashboard View

See every transaction in real-time on your ledger:

Owner Portal Ledger View

Statements and forms will be posted to your documents library:

Owner Portal Document Library

View a suite of real-time financial reports:

Portal Reports View

See a running list of all bills, and drill down for more detail:

Owner Portal Bills View

Under Bill Details, you'll find dates/descriptions/amounts and more:

Portal Bill Details

You can also communicate with your Account Manager through the portal:

Owner Portal Communication Tools

How do net distributions work?

Net distributions keep your accounting clean and simple. Each month we’ll collect rent from the tenants, deduct any repair expenses for the previous month and any management/leasing fees for the current month, and credit the remaining net operating income to your account. 

Net Distribution

You’ll receive a statement via email each time a net distribution is processed, and can view all transaction details in your Propertyware owner portal.