Landlords From Hell

Some landlords set up hidden cameras to spy on their tenants and most victims never know about it. Lisa Guerrero has this I-Squad investigation.

It seemed to be a nice home located in the upscale Washington D.C. suburb of Chevy Chase, Maryland. But what happened inside has many women who lived there furious.

“I was stunned. I was shocked,” said one renter.

One young woman, who asked us not to use her name, rented a room in the house so she could be near her ailing father. It was a beautiful house, beautiful neighborhood, the rent was great.

Her landlord was Dennis Van Dusen, an attorney.  Van Dusen rented rooms to young women at cut rate prices. Two other women lived there when she moved in.  Van Dusen also lived there, in the master bedroom. Right away, he gave her the creeps. 

Watch our landlord investigation.

“He would know things. He would say things and comment on things I had done or had said when he wasn't home,” said the renter.

One day, she discovered something that really bothered her. Wires and cables everywhere, even in a crack in the bathroom ceiling. Was she being secretly recorded? Suspecting so, she packed her bags.

“I moved out immediately,” she said.

It's a renter’s nightmare. You move into a home or apartment and have no idea you are being secretly watched. Cameras are so small they can be placed inside a flower pot, hidden in a bathroom, or tucked inside a smoke detector. Chances are, you'll never know the cameras are there.

All across the country landlords have been caught secretly taping their tenants. One guy from upstate New York installed small cameras in a bedroom alarm clock. And a landlord from Pennsylvania admitted to spying on 34 female tenants in five apartment buildings he owned.

One young woman, who didn't want her face shown, also lived in Van Dusen's house. Then something strange happened.

“When the power went out one time, all the smoke detectors in the house beeped by detecting a power outage, mine didn't beep at all,” she said.

So she had her boyfriend take the smoke detector apart. Her worst suspicions were confirmed in an instant.  Inside he found a microchip that contained a camera. Cops were called, and they confiscation the landlord's computers. What they found was shocking: hours of secret recordings.

The camera had recorded their most intimate moments. In the video, which INSIDE EDITION aired with the permission of the couple, the woman and her boyfriend can be seen sharing kisses, snuggling in bed, and getting ready to go to work in the morning.

"I was disgusted. He is definitely disturbed. Sick,” said the former tenant.

“Dennis Van Dusen is a modern day peeping Tom,” said Ramon Korinoff, a spokesperson for the Montgomery County, Maryland, state's attorney's office.

Korinoff said, “This guy took advantage of women in their most private intimate moments.”

Van Dusen admitted to secretly recording his tenants and pled guilty to illegal surveillance. After he didn't return our calls, INSIDE EDITION’s Lisa Guerrero found him taking a morning stroll and tried to speak with him.

“Hi, I'm Lisa Guerrero from INSIDE EDITION,” she said. “Why did you spy on those women? What would you say if someone did this to your daughter or your wife?” asked Guerrero.

Van Dusen ran off without responding.

How long the surveillance of his tenants has been going on remains a mystery.  But consider this – the woman who became suspicious after finding those wires moved out 10 years ago.

For all his spying on tenants, Van Dusen received no jail time. The judge gave him five years probation, ordered counseling, and a imposed a $2,500 fine.