What happened to the landline? A trap for investors...

Has this ever happened to anyone else?

I've had an investment property in SA for about 3 years, and my current tenants are the same ones who moved in right after I bought it. Last week, out of the blue, they asked if they could have a phone line put in for broadband. I was VERY confused; when I bought the house (and they moved in) there was very definitely a working phone line to the property - I have photographic evidence of the phone plugged in and the builders report verified a phone line at the time of purchase etc. :confused:

Apparently either my tenants never connected a phone in the property or they did initially but then disconnected it. Subsequently when a landline has been disconnected for 6 months Telstra comes along and removes the connection to the house (without notifying the owner). The bill to reconnect is not a simple $59 charge for the tenant, but a whopping $299 to reinstate the line in! :eek:

The feedback from my property manager in SA is that unfortunately because there is an existing point in the property it is my responsibility as the landlord to maintain it, meaning that I will be responsible to get the line put back in, costing $180 of the total cost, while the tenant is responsible only for the connection of that line - the remaining $120.

I am frustrated that it looks like I will have to pay $180 to reconnect a service that I already provided to the tenants in good faith at the beginning of the tenancy. And I am really worried about the implications of this in the future! Theoretically the tenants could disconnect the line again at any point, and Telstra remove the connection to the house again, and I'll be left in the same situation with any future tenants. This could be happening with any of my properties and I'd be none the wiser.

With the trend now being for people to rely less on landlines and more on mobile phones, has anyone else fallen into this trap?? What happened?
 
I went through this. In Victoria, it's the tenants responsibility to pay this connection fee, even though the PM at the time swore black and blue it was mine. Check the Tenants Union website. From memory it was the landlords responsibility to make sure the property has a telephone connection (aka the 'leading line', the line from the street into the house - trench dug, cable laid, etc).

I paid it to be nice as they were awesome tenants.

It's not logical that it's a landlords responsibility, it's not like we should pay the $30pm landline fee to keep Telstra from disconnecting it.
 
has anyone else fallen into this trap??

Not as yet Dotty.

One of the "special conditions" we have on our residential Leases is the following ;

3. A constant telephone landline shall be maintained at the premises at the full cost of the TENANT.


Now, we write that in there, and the Tenant agrees and signs it before moving in......but to be honest, if push came to shove, the laws are so **** weak that if they wanted to challenge it and say the Landlord had no power to enforce it, I reckon they'd be absolutely correct.


As a residential Landlord, you're on a hiding to nowhere. Don't ever push your luck, you'll get smashed every time if it ever gets official and the Tenant wishes to challenge you.


I reckon that's why the PMs all over Australia routinely just give up and make the Landlord pay, whatever of the 4,000 various complaints that come in looking for a lap to dump the problem into. Good luck !!
 
I'm going through this also after a tenant changeover. It's still unresolved. The new tenant notified us. We called Telstra to confirm if true but they wouldn't tell us as we're not the account holder/tenant. It does seem crazy!
 
It is the first that I have heard of a phone line being disconnected at the pit if it is unused unless of course there is a shortage of available pairs and you just happen to be lucky enough not to be utilising the landline at the time.

Generally, it is the LL's responsibility to pay the connection fee. If a tenant wants broadband, then they need to pay for a telephone service otherwise upgrade to a fibre installation (coming to a suburb nowhere near you with the NBN).
 
Has this ever happened to anyone else?

I used to get this ALL the time. Probably once a month we had to have a line re-connected. If one tenant doesn't use the line, and someone else in the unit block or street connects up, the provider will just take your spare one at the exchange and connect it to someone else.

Then when your new tenants go to connect, there are no spares and you are up for a new line connection.

On hearsay: this has been tested at the tribunal, and as the tenant 'observed' a phone point at the inspection, they can expect the landlord to provide a line that they can connect to.

I used to charge the physical connection fee to the Owner, and charge the tenant for the $70-$100 account setup fee.

Matt
 
This is one area that I have won in the past. I paid the difference of 1st tenants connection fee, ie $250 for new house.

After that my stance has been the physical cable to the phone point in the house is installed. If due to inactivity the street pairs are reassigned that is the tenants responsibility to pay. If it been reassigned to OPTUS etc its not my problem either the cable in the house is there and connected to the phone point.

One of mine has been back and forth between Telstra and Optus several times it would have cost me thousands over the years if I paid for it.
 
Has this ever happened to anyone else?

I've had an investment property in SA for about 3 years, and my current tenants are the same ones who moved in right after I bought it. Last week, out of the blue, they asked if they could have a phone line put in for broadband. I was VERY confused; when I bought the house (and they moved in) there was very definitely a working phone line to the property - I have photographic evidence of the phone plugged in and the builders report verified a phone line at the time of purchase etc. :confused:

Apparently either my tenants never connected a phone in the property or they did initially but then disconnected it. Subsequently when a landline has been disconnected for 6 months Telstra comes along and removes the connection to the house (without notifying the owner). The bill to reconnect is not a simple $59 charge for the tenant, but a whopping $299 to reinstate the line in! :eek:

I would argue that if the tenants did not follow the standard procedure or disconnected it themselves, it is THEIR responsibility. I would at least try out this argument before giving in.
 
Most probably have a vacancy happening right now because I refused to get involved (and refused that the strata is responsible) for the quality of the line to a unit.

Tenant had line checked and was told it was a wiring problem they wanted someone else to pay to fix the problem.

I have had tenant pay close to $1000 to actually run a cable to a unit (GF) because there was no phone line. I never heard from them about claiming the expense. I just found out because I subsequently observed the work done.

The problem with the phone line connection is that the tech comes out a bills the tenant and tells them that the LL has to pay. Ideal situation for the tech - here is your substantial bill but your LL is responsible. Gets no argument from the tenant. Eliminates the pressure on the tech.

Cheers
 
I would argue that if the tenants did not follow the standard procedure or disconnected it themselves, it is THEIR responsibility. I would at least try out this argument before giving in.

This is what I say too. The tenant allowed the line to lapse, or be re-assigned, or whatever happens.
 
I've been to tribunal on this as well and agree as said earlier. In VIC it was found that the landlord is responsible to provide a working point so the tenant has the ability to connect the utilities, like if they see a heater it is a fair expectation that the heater is in working order and the landlord would have to repair if it breaks down.

In the past I have done the same as MattySavager - Landlord pays only the portion to provide the working line to the house and tenant pays the rest.
 
This is what I say too. The tenant allowed the line to lapse, or be re-assigned, or whatever happens.

Agree, but the tenant would say he is not responsible for what happened before his time. One of those rehearsed lines.

The condition for Qld seems plain enough, it is the tenant's responsibility,

http://tinyurl.com/phone-connection

But as Matt says is possible (but needs checking), it is yet another area where the tribunal is saying if it can be seen it must be working. I believe that general ruling should be challenged. But at the end of the day, Dazz is probably right again with his prediction.

Consumers should be challenging this in another place. Telstra is simply following electricity, internet and other suppliers in diversifying its charges. Unethical behaviour really - where is the justification for the cost, and even if there should be a charge it is probably excessive.
 
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Wouldn't it be sufficient to include "working phone line" in the incoming inspection report?

If during tenancy the phone line then stops working because of a fault, then it's the LL who pays to fix. Similarly there should be a working line at then end of the tenancy: if it's dead because the tenant disconnected it (or allowed it to lapse) then the tenant should pay to have to reconnected.
 
OK, so still some confusion here.

In VIC, the tenant is responsible for this.

Tenants Union Fact sheet - http://tuv.org.au/articles/files/resources/utility_charges_RT_FS_052010.pdf

Telephone
Tenants are responsible for all charges related
to the supply and use of a telephone at the
rented premises. This includes all service
fees, call charges, equipment rental charges
and connection fees. It also includes the cost
of the initial connection of a telephone line.
If you are moving into a property that has
been newly built, or where there has not been
a connection for some time, it may be
necessary for the line to be laid or re-installed.
This can be extremely expensive and you
cannot recover the cost from the landlord.
We advise that you check with the telephone
service provider to see if a line will need to
be installed to the property
before you sign
the lease.
If it does, you should negotiate
with the landlord to pay the cost of the
initial connection. Make sure you get any
agreement in writing, signed by you and
your landlord
 
And I've just looked and found this under the RTA Qld site -

Who's responsible for getting a phone line installed?

Under the Act, lessors are not obliged to provide a telephone connection in a rental property, but when a rental premises includes a phone line, the lessor must ensure it is in good repair.

At the beginning of a tenancy, it's a good idea for a lessor and tenant to discuss whether or not a phone connection is included in the tenancy agreement.

Case study
A tenant wanted a phone line in his new rental home, so before his tenancy began he asked the lessor if the property already had a phone connection.

The lessor said there was no phone line, and after some negotiation they agreed to share the cost of getting a line installed.

Details of their arrangement were included as a special condition in the tenancy agreement.

The tenant then registered the phone number is his own name, and arranged for the bills to be sent directly to him.

Had the tenant and lessor not made these arrangements before the start of the tenancy, it would have been up to the tenant to follow the process for adding an inclusion to a rental property.

He would have to get the lessor's permission in writing to have a phone line installed.

They would have discussed who would pay for the line's installation. Once they reached an agreement they would have to set out in writing the details of any change to the premises.
 
OK, so still some confusion here.

In VIC, the tenant is responsible for this.

Tenants Union Fact sheet - http://tuv.org.au/articles/files/resources/utility_charges_RT_FS_052010.pdf

VIC tenants union also tells tenants to stop paying rent if maintenance isn't done..........

I know it's lengthy but the act states;
52. Tenant's liability for various utility charges
A tenant is liable for?
(a) all charges in respect of the supply or use of
electricity, gas or oil in respect of the tenant's
occupation of rented premises that are
separately metered except?
(i) the installation costs and charges in
respect of the initial connection of the
service to the rented premises; and
(ii) the supply or hire of gas bottles;
(b) the cost of all water supplied to the rented
premises during the tenant's occupancy if the
cost is based solely on the amount of water
supplied and the premises are separately
metered;
(c) that part of the charge that is based on the
amount of water supplied to the premises
during the tenant's occupation if the cost of
water supplied is only partly based on the
amount of water supplied to the premises
and the premises are separately metered;
(d) all sewerage disposal charges in respect of
separately metered rented premises imposed
during the tenant's occupation of the rented
premises by the holder of a water and
sewerage licence issued under Division 1 of
Part 2 of the Water Industry Act 1994;
(e) all charges in respect of the use of bottled
gas at the rented premises in respect of the
tenant's occupation of the rented premises.
53. Landlord's liability for various utility charges
(1) A landlord is liable for?
s. 53

Nothing about telephone lines.

In my experience VCAT lumps it in as a supply to the property and so landlord responsibility.

Either that or it goes in with - it's there and the tenant has the right to assume it's working and the landlord has to pay.

I don't agree with it but it's how it seems to be ruled each time.
 
Yes, those are the rules for water/gas/elec. There seems to be a clear distinction between water/gas/elec vs telephones and that they are treated very differently.

Naturally it makes sense for a landlord to provide the essential services, but I wouldn't call a landline an essential service (especially with mobiles now).

Also, how is a landlord supposed to be able to 'maintain' an active service on the line so Telstra doesn't disconnect it? It's not possible.
 
Perhaps it is worth putting in a special condition on leases that should the phone line be found to have been "disconnected" due to previous tenant having not hooked up a line, that the cost to hook back up is borne by the incoming tenant.

Of the houses we own, only two have land lines (both families). All the singles and/or young couples use mobiles. I guess we will find out soon enough if someone wants a landline and it has been re-assigned to someone else.

It still comes down to being just a cost of doing business, but if we ever face the prospect of having to pay to have a line re-assigned to the house, I would ensure that I insert a special condition (enforceable or not) saying the line must be kept up and if not, it must be reconnected before they leave.

I guess this is like the clause we insert saying that if the tenant doesn't clean the air-con filter and a callout is required that is a result of that, they pay the callout. I've never had to test this yet, but it goes into every lease.
 
I'm a Telstra shareholder so I don't mind if people are being ripped off with their phone line connections.
 
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