In NJ, is a fenced yard considered an area with an expectation of privacy

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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In NJ, is a fenced yard considered an area with an expectation of privacy

My next door neighbors have a security
camera aimed directly into my fenced-in
backyard. Is this legal? I understand it
IS legal to have cameras aimed anywhere
that can be seen from the public,
however I also know it is ILLEGAL to aim
cameras anywhere there is an expectation
of privacy. All examples given are doors
windows, bathrooms, changing areas, etc.
Does the fact that my yard is fenced and
NOT viewable to the public count as an
expectation of privacY? What can I
legally do about this as I find it to be
a huge violation of privacy. If I wanted
to be watched in my backyard, I wouldn’t
have put a fence up. Advice?

Asked on August 13, 2018 under Real Estate Law, New Jersey


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

A fenced yard does not typically have a sufficient expectation of privacy as to forbid them aiming a camera into it from their property. The problem is that a fence only defeats ground level viewing: it can be looked into readily from the 2nd or 3rd, etc. floors of nearby homes or buidlings. (E.g. I live in NJ; my yard and my neighbors are all fenced; butI can see into their yards my homes 2nd and 3rd story windows or my elevated deck, and vice versa.) If you are in an area with multi-story buildings or homes, as most people in NJ do, you do not have enough of a reasonable expectation of privacy. If all the nearby homes are one-story (e.g. ranches) and lack elevated decks, under those circumstances, you might be able to establish enough of a privacy expectation as to force him to re-aim his camera, since the court looks to the facts and circumstances to establish reasonable expectations--though be advised that if the neighbor will not comply, you'd have to bring a legal action, which could be a time consummng and expensive affair.

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