As a landlord, you always want to have tenants who are paying the rent on time and taking good care of your unit. However, you might sometimes get curious about what they're doing inside of the unit and want to find out for yourself. There's a dangerous line that landlords can cross in terms of not giving their tenants enough privacy. Yes, they're technically living inside of a space that you own, but they should also expect privacy. If you snoop on your tenants to this extent, you could potentially face charges.
Installing A Listening Device
It's relatively easy to buy a small listening device that you can easily install in your tenants' unit. Your reasons for doing so can vary but may be a challenge to justify in court. For example, perhaps you think that your tenants don't like you, and you're determined to catch them saying derogatory things about you so that you can evict them. Or, maybe you're worried that they're breaking the law in some manner and want evidence that you can use against them. Whatever your reason, installing a listening device without your tenants' knowledge is against the law and could lead to charges.
Using Video Surveillance
Video surveillance is another form of snooping against your tenants that is against the law. As with a listening device, you could potentially install some type of clandestine video camera inside of the unit, allowing you to capture the tenants' day-to-day activities. You might feel justified that you're concerned about any damage they may do to your unit, and you want proof, but you need to remember that your tenants are entitled to an expectation of privacy where they live — and that means that no one should be watching their movements through a video camera.
Stealing Their Mail
Stealing someone else's mail is illegal, even if you have plans to attempt to reseal the envelope and place the mail back in the tenants' mailbox. You might be battling with your tenants about rent and have been told that they cannot afford to pay what you're charging. In an effort to show that they're lying, you might think about opening a mailed bank statement to get a sense of their financial picture.
If you get some mail addressed to you at the tenants' location, it may seem easy enough to open their mail and claim that you did so accidentally. However, you could still be looking at a theft charge. If you're facing any charge related to snooping on your tenants, contact a criminal defense attorney.