Illegal surveillance

It is very common for condo directors, the security staff and the property managers to illegally spy on disgruntled owners.

This political surveillance becomes very common prior to the Annual General Meetings, or requisition meetings, and the opposition candidates and their supporters find that it can be very stressful and intimidating.

The use of security cameras to monitor condo election candidates and their followers is a violation of the Privacy Act as this article about a decision of the British Columbia Privacy Commissioner's Office makes clear. However, the practice continues.

The security staff monitor the CCTV cameras in the elevators and inform the manager, superintendent or a director who is going door-to-door and what floor they are on.

When the opposition candidates and their supporters talk to the owners where they are seen on the cameras, the guards tell the manager or the directors who they are talking to.

The guards are often instructed to trail after the canvassers to pick up the literature that is left in the doors, save a couple of copies for the manager, and throw the rest out.

Spying on the president
At one condo in Etobicoke, the property manager and the security supervisor would come in on the weekends and scan that week's video from a couple of cameras, that were trained on the lobby and outside the front door, to see who the president had been talking to.

The president was asking too many questions at the board meetings and was no longer considered "loyal" to the management company. (A couple of guards and an employee tipped off the president about the secret monitoring.)

Demanding a cut
At one condo, the superintendent would stay after hours to work for the residents by doing small repairs in their units. The property manager had the security staff monitor the video cameras, whenever the superintendent stayed late, and report to him which units the superintendent entered.

The manager demanded a cut of the superintendent's payments to allow him to continue to work in the residential units.

A few condo boards go too far. They install secret cameras to spy on the owners.

A secret camera mounted on a hallway wall so management
could spy on a condo activist.

This is a photograph of a camera that was placed outside an owner's unit in an Etobicoke condo when he was trying to organize a requisition to remove directors from the board.

This is the miniature camera that was hidden in the electrical box.

There was a second video camera that was hidden in this hallway emergency lighting box. It was aimed at another owner's unit door.

You can see how they had a knock-out removed from the box to give the camera lens a hole to peek out of.

For old technology, this was a quite clever hiding spot.

This owner was attempting to raise support to get elected to the the board of directors.

The board's tricks was exposed when the board fired an employee who, in an act of revenge, told the two owners that they were being spied upon.
Other incidents
The residents of a downtown co-op were surprised to hear that the board of directors had secret cameras installed in some hallways. Was it to monitor their political opponents or was it to catch a firebug? Who can say for sure.

Then there was/is a secret camera installed in a hallway at a condo, outside a unit, at 38 Elm Street. Was it installed at the request of the tenant or was it there to spy on behalf of the tenant? Joe Fiorito, the Toronto Star columnist who wrote this story did not know.

top  contents  chapter  previous  next