Renters and Telephones
August 28, 2008 1:40 PM   Subscribe

Telephone lines: whose obligation? Renting in an unincorporated area

Can anyone point me to the rules for renters in unincorporated areas? Are they just out of luck?

Someone rented the top half of a house and now it turns out the phones don't work. The landlord says the tenants need to pay the phone companies to put the lines in. Phone companies have always told me that this was the landlord's responsibility.

The landlord is also doing renovations to the bottom half of the house that he said would be finished by the end of August, but it's clear there's no way that will be the case. In the meantime he and his workers are tromping right though the top half of the house without even knocking.

Moving ALL.THAT.STUFF! again would be horrifying but is that their best bet?

This is in California, in the Bay Area.
posted by small_ruminant to Law & Government (4 answers total)
While it is the landlord’s responsibility to install and maintain the inside wiring for one
telephone jack, the landlord’s failure to do so probably does not violate the implied warranty of habitability.

via California Tenants guide (pdf - page 37) Also search for "rural" within the PDF and you'll get contact info for various counties' rural legal assistance groups.
posted by desjardins at 2:47 PM on August 28, 2008

My phone line went dead at one point, so I followed the (very old) line out of my apartment, down to the stairs, and saw that the line was impossibly frayed. I called my landlord, thinking for sure that it was his building, his phone line. He said, no, that it was the phone company's . When I called them, they told me that it was my phone line, my problem. They would come out and fix it, for a hefty charge.

So, from that experience, I learned that it is the renters obligation-you must pay to have the line put in and/or fixed.
posted by Grlnxtdr at 5:18 PM on August 28, 2008

Usually, there is a gray box that is the demarcation point. Usually, it's the phone company's problem to get a dialtone to that box. Beyond that, it is the property owner's problem.

If there isn't one, see if the phone company will come and install one. I believe the phone company's easement requires that the property owner must allow one to be installed.

From there, you'll have to fight with the landlord. Common sense says that the phone lines are part of the property that you are paying to rent- you can't take them with you when you leave, right? But it might depend on the prevailing law of the township/county you're in.
posted by gjc at 5:33 PM on August 28, 2008

California landlords are required to provide a working inside line. Give your landlord a copy of the applicable law, along with written notice of when you intend to repair and deduct if he doesn't have the line fixed by then. You do want to keep things nice and civil for the long run, so be generous in your interpretation of what's a "reasonable" amount of him to allow for him to do the work before you step in. But do clear state that deadline so there's no misunderstanding later.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 1:18 PM on August 29, 2008

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