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Why your neighbours can sue you over a Ring doorbell

Why your neighbours can sue you over a Ring doorbell
Image source: Getty Images


That Ring doorbell you’ve set up outside your home? You best make sure it complies with privacy laws – or you could find yourself in court. Here’s how the judgment could affect your home security setup, and other ways you might secure your home and lower your home insurance premium

What is a Ring doorbell?

A Ring doorbell is a ‘smart’ doorbell. It connects to your home Wi-Fi network and sends you an alert whenever it detects movement outside your door. 

  • There’s an HD camera, so you can see whoever is outside. 
  • You can chat with the visitor using the two-way talk function. 
  • The camera can record what’s going on outside your door and store it in a secure cloud location.

So, a Ring doorbell can help you to protect your home.

What’s the law around Ring doorbells?

Well, they’re perfectly legal in the UK. However, if you have a Ring doorbell, you must comply with UK privacy laws – here’s a cautionary tale to explain why.

In Oxfordshire, a Mr Woodard installed four Ring doorbells around his property to protect his home from burglars. 

The problem? The doorbells captured footage of his neighbour’s house, garden, parking space and garden shed. His neighbour, Dr Fairhurst, claimed this was an invasion of her privacy.

  • Mr Woodard didn’t ask his neighbour’s permission before installing the devices.
  • The devices could capture audio and video footage of Dr Fairhurst’s private property.
  • As a result, the judge found that the doorbells breached UK privacy laws.  

The outcome? Mr Woodard has been ordered to pay his neighbour up to £100,000 in damages for invading her privacy using Ring doorbells. 

How do I use my Ring doorbell legally?

To be clear, the judgment doesn’t mean you can’t use your doorbell anymore. It just means you need to be careful about how you use it. To help you comply with the law, here are some tips for using a smart doorbell: 

  • Tell your neighbours before you install a Ring doorbell. 
  • Toggle the settings so you’re only capturing the area immediately outside your front door.  
  • Put up a sticker or sign on your door saying the area is monitored by Ring. 

If you live in a flat or it’s impossible to set up the doorbell without capturing your neighbours as they go about their daily business, you might be better off using other security devices. Contact Citizens Advice or a similar organisation if you’re unsure whether your doorbell is legal or not.  

How else can I secure my home?

Sure, a Ring doorbell can give you peace of mind at home. Remember, though, that it’s not the only way to upgrade your home’s security. And what’s more, a smart doorbell won’t necessarily help you get cheaper home insurance

With all that in mind, here are some other ways you can protect your home:

  • Start with a simple burglar alarm – some insurers may offer a discount if you have one. 
  • Make sure all doors and windows have secure locks. 
  • Put up a CCTV sign. Even if there’s no camera, the sign might be enough to deter would-be intruders.
  • Do you have high-value items, like jewellery? Consider buying a safe. Again, there’s a chance an insurer might offer a discount on your policy. 
  • Don’t advertise your movements on social media. You could actually void your insurance policy if you make it obvious when you’re not home or you’re on holiday! 

So, even if a Ring doorbell isn’t right for your property, you can still make your home a little safer this winter. 

Takeaway

In short, it’s perfectly legal to use a Ring doorbell or similar smart device. However, just make sure your neighbours know about it, and change the settings so you’re only capturing the smallest area necessary. And remember, you can always take other steps to safeguard your home if you’re worried about your neighbours’ privacy. 

Finally – are you looking for cheaper home insurance? Don’t forget to check out our pick of home insurance comparison websites if you need help finding a good deal.

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