Laws on this sticky subject vary from state to state and sometimes, city to city. There is no overriding federal law. But in general, local and state laws usually permit landlords to install cameras in “public spaces.”
This is an important distinction. Private areas, like bedrooms and bathrooms, or anywhere else that anyone would reasonably expect privacy are off limits.
In a situation where you rent a single room of a house or apartment, it gets trickier. Your expectation of privacy would only apply to the room and the bathroom. The person renting can put cameras elsewhere, such as the living room or their rooms, and it would likely be legal.
However, as Brickhouse Security reminds us, recording someone for the “purpose of blackmail or other ‘malicious intent’” is illegal in any situation. Also, audio recording has much stricter rules than video. In many states, both parties need to be aware that the recording is taking place.
If you’re renting, first check the listings carefully for any mention of cameras. Regardless, your job upon arrival is to check every single room. The good news is that finding these cameras only sounds difficult.