SBC New Low Price

Excerpts from a recent long-running thread [1] on ba.internet:


>>> There's a law that the landlord must provide a working phone jack. >> This isn't a Berkeley or SF law, it's CA State Law. A working phone >> line is a required feature of a residential rental, the same as hot >> water, running water, electric service, no vermin, etc.


Contrary to your post, a working phone line is not required for > habitability. Only a functional jack and inside wiring to that jack. > Whether or not there is breakable dialtone, or whether there is a good > drop bridged to the inside wire, is not the responsibility of the > landlord. >>> The law requires landlords to >>> maintain inside wiring to one phone jack. It does not require them to >>> maintain the drop or the service. It does NOT require them to act on >>> the tenant's behalf to fix billing or service problems with phone >>> companies.


> ... the landlord does have the responsibility to >> provision a working pair to the unit *when the tenant moves in*.


No, he doesn't. The law covers only the inside wiring, that which was > divested from telco years ago. It doesn't cover anything else.


I have no dog in this fight, but am just curious at this point as to what the truth really is. Anyone able to provide it?

[1] "Re: SBC new low price" on ba.internet: The specific incident that started it was one where a departing tenant vanished, leaving a sizable phone bill unpaid; the telco allegedly refuses to release the line to a new tenant until the old bill is paid; and the landlord is supposedly trapped in the middle, unable to provide phone service to the new tenant unless he's willing to pay the unpaid charges for the old tenant. [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Who had the responsibility for the phone service in the first place; the tenant or the landlord? If the landlord was _historically_ providing the phone service (and collecting on same from tenants), then landlord is responsible. This type of situation usually only occurs when the landlord is providing phone service in a hotel/motel type situation, where telco believes it is more convenient for a landlord to deal with transients than it is for telco. In those cases, telco usually provides a commission to landlord in exchange for handling the collection and customer service functions. In a _really transient_ situation, such as overnight or weekly tenants, telco is generally obligated to quote any charges for service as they occur, to give the landlord a reasonable opportunity to 'post' the charges and make collection for same. If telco fails to quote time and charges in a timely way and as a result tenant is gone before landlord can collect, that is telco's problem. There are all kinds of audit trails and proofs on whether or not telco made the quote in a timely way, operator ticket serial numbers, etc. In those cases, if telco was advising landlord of the bill due on telephone service, the landlord was diligently 'posting' these entries to a ledger and the tenant skipped without payment, then it is indeed the landlord's problem. After all, says telco, we were paying you a commission on traffic revenue to attend to this sort of thing.

On the flip side of the coin, if tenant was _historically_ paying for telephone service (that is, an apartment or similar but with his own wiring and jack and his own obligations to telco) then the problem is telco's unless telco can demonstrate fraud on the part of some third party such as landlord. If I, independently, contracted with telco for service, at some point was unable or unwilling to pay for same, and skipped then telco is responsible. Telco could have, after all, installed a pay-station outside my door or in the parking lot or wherever, but instead chose to take my word (based on credit reports or whatever) regards my ability and willingness to pay for service. So I guess my question would be _who_ originally agreed to pay for the service of the tenant who skipped? We would need more details on this.

Telco is protected against attempts to defraud it, however. If telco can demonstrate that something transparent took place, then telco is entitled to withhold service until the problem is cured. For example, several years ago here in this Digest, we learned of the case of a person who skipped with unpaid bills, then that person's mother and father 'conveniently' took over the very same apartment, and kept insisting 'not responsible for the bills of other person', which may in fact have been true, but telco was unwilling to accept that transparency. Is this case by any chance that very same one from several years ago? _That one_ was on the west coast somewhere, and either the child had run off not paying his bills and the parents did not feel responsible or maybe it was the other way around. Are we still dealing with that case?

In that case in the Digest from years ago, I think we detirmined that tenants had historically paid their own telephone bill; that tenant had skipped; and that tenant's family members had moved in. The new person kept insisting landlord 'had to' help them explain the problem to telco; landlord attempted to do so, and telco would not accept the explanation. Is this the same case? AES, you said this was a 'long running thread in ba.internet' ... the suggestion made in that long ago case here was that if the landlord felt so strongly inclined to help the tenant, my suggestion was to either give telco a personal guarentee (_not_ a corporate guarentee, telco is not a bunch of fools after all!) on payment or pay the bill and collect it from the new tenant, or perhaps supply the new tenant with a cell phone under the same kind of personal guarentee conditions until the problem got solved.

Assuming telco is correct, that it is all just some transparency intended to rip them off, then appeals to the Commission won't help; telco will stick to it's guns, rightfully. If telco is incorrect, and tenants/landlord can prove it, then they will get phone service, albiet perhaps grudgingly, and perhaps with a substantial deposit required. In the meantime, (appeals to the Commission can go on for months until resolved) for phone service for these wonderful new wrongly accused put-upon tenants, if landlord _must_ get involved, then get them a cell phone, and a new rental lease which makes it very clear: Each time the tenant pays any money, the money is _first_ applied to the telephone bill, then it is applied to any rent due. Reasoning is, in the 'unlikely' event the new tenant decides to try the same thing as the old one and stall on paying his bills _due to you_ i.e. rent and by default his phone bill, it is always easier for a landlord to evict a tenant on non-payment of rent than for non-payment of sundry items. PAT]

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