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How do you know you can install system at tenant’s request

May 3, 2023
How do you know you can install system at tenant’s request
          We have a friend who is a tenant at a residence and we were having him sign the Residential All in One.  We know he doesn’t own the property; he is a tenant.  Does he need approval from the landlord to install an alarm system with cameras and contract for monitoring? And if so, is verbal acceptable, or in writing?
Thank you,
           If you know the tenant is the end user then the tenant should sign the Residential All in One. [and a Disclaimer Notice]
          This presents an interesting issue, which is, how do you know if you’re authorized to enter upon real property and install security or fire alarm equipment and provide on-going after-install services? 
          Thinking about the Standard Form Agreements [and I bet every other alarm contract] the contracts do address altering premises and delays and other installation and repair [and removal of equipment] issues.  The contracts don’t specifically state that you’re authorized to enter upon the premises, though you are authorized to install.  Without authorization you are a trespasser, though it may be distinction with a difference.   
          Most fire alarm subscribers are the owner of the building, though often a tenant will engage a fire alarm company to install in the tenant’s premises, usually causing a raucous with the fire alarm company that has the building].   
          The typical security system in a residence is likely not to be costly enough to raise concerns about authority to enter and install.  The equipment and labor is not a prohibited cost and any damage caused by the installation likely minimal.  Even if you got caught in the middle of a tenant-owner dispute it’s not going to cause significant loss.  That of course changes if you’re installing home entertainment, costly wiring and other more significant installation.  Think of it this way.  If you were painting a house from white to red or changing a roof or adding an extension, it would be prudent to make sure you’re dealing with the owner or at least had the owner’s consent.
          The Standard Form Agreements do provide that the subscriber represents that if not the owner of the property that the owner has consented to the work.  While this may not bind the owner it will clearly support the indemnification provision in the contract in the event the owner objects to the installation altering the property.
          Sometimes you know you are dealing with someone other than the owner.  In that case it would be prudent to inquire about the owner’s consent.  Unless your installation is sizable I don’t think you need to insist on seeing the lease or getting written consent from the owner.  Fire alarm systems, by the way, requiring permits, would probably require the owner’s signature on the permit application, so that would of course suffice.
          One final thought that caught my attention when I first read the question.  The installation was for a “friend”.  No good deed goes unpunished.  Treat every deal as if with a stranger that you don’t particularly trust.

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Ken Kirschenbaum,Esq
Kirschenbaum & Kirschenbaum PC
Attorneys at Law
200 Garden City Plaza
Garden City, NY 11530
516 747 6700 x 301