Landlord wants DC resident to remove doorbell camera that's helped MPD solve crimes

If you rent your home in D.C. and use a doorbell camera for security, can your landlord force you to take it down? 

Technically, no. 

Tom Donohue lives in Anacostia and has an outdoor camera system for his home. He says MPD has used footage captured from his camera to investigate a murder, armed robbery, and shootings. 

Now, his landlord is demanding that he take it down.

FOX 5 obtained footage outside Donahue's house of a driver charged with murder after hitting and killing 45-year-old cyclist David Farewell in September 2020. Investigators used Donohue's video to eventually identify and charge 29-year-old Eric Beasley with first-degree murder. 

Donahue says he needs his cameras for his own safety. He doesn't want to take them down.

"The safety of it is my first goal," he told FOX 5. "With literally a murder happening outside my apartment and armed robbery and various other things, I wanna know what's going on outside before I walk outside, and my cameras allow me to do that."

FOX 5 spoke with a tenants' rights attorney who says tenants are generally in a better position on this issue. 

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Kamal Nawash says bylaws typically pre-date doorbell cameras' technology and are generally too vague to explicitly disallow them. He says there's not much a landlord can do.

"It is the policy of the D.C. government to encourage these," Nawash said. 

The attorney is referring to the Private Security Camera incentive program that Mayor Bowser launched in 2016 that will pay for residents to have security cameras so MPD can use the footage in criminal investigations. 

Donohue said he was notified last night that he has 72 hours to take the cameras down. He says they've been up for nine years and haven't bothered anyone, and he plans to ask a court to intervene, so he can keep them up.