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The Ayatollah Buggeri

Ast Clause On Phone Numbers

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Doing an occasional weed of personal papers and putting now obsolete ones through the shredder. Glancing through my AST contract while trawling through a file, I noticed a clause in it which states that I agree not to 'appropriate' the flat's phone number to another address at the end of the tenancy. I understand this to mean that if, when I move, I move to somewhere within the same area code, I can't transfer my existing phone number to my next home.

I don't think the LL would have a problem if I did transfer it anyway, but out of curiosity's sake, is that clause in any way legally enforceable? Surely the contract to supply a phone service is between me and the telecommunications company, and the LL has nothing to do with it? Furthermore, the act of transferring the number would probably happen after the contract terminated anyway, and so I can't see how he could sue for breaching the terms of a contract that no longer existed. I presume that clause is only there at all because the LL doesn't want the hassle of having to update his records of what property has what phone number (my LL is The National Trust, which manages at least hundreds and possibly thousands of residential properties) every time it changes tenants. But I'd be intrigued to know if it theoretically has any legal teeth.

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Doing an occasional weed of personal papers and putting now obsolete ones through the shredder. Glancing through my AST contract while trawling through a file, I noticed a clause in it which states that I agree not to 'appropriate' the flat's phone number to another address at the end of the tenancy. I understand this to mean that if, when I move, I move to somewhere within the same area code, I can't transfer my existing phone number to my next home.

I don't think the LL would have a problem if I did transfer it anyway, but out of curiosity's sake, is that clause in any way legally enforceable?

Interesting. I can't remember anything specific. In these cases "reasonableness" is usually the key factor - if the NT (which possibly has all sorts of rights which ordinary landlords don't) has bothered to put it in the contract it may be able to argue that the expense and inconvenience it would suffer from all its tenants being able to "take" their number with them outweighs the convenience to the tenant. They might, for example, have some sort of block discount with BT (just postulating, but possible). If you'd lived there for 10 years and had been running a business (almost certainly debarred by any NT contract!) you might have a case i suppose.

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Given that BT generally cancels the line when someone moves out, makes the new tenant pay a connection fee, and allocates a new number, I'm not sure what they're on at.

Very rarely a new number actually unless someone has paid to take it with them.

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Come to think of it, I did take my number from my previous rented flat to this one. So the previous number on the LL's records wouldn't have been accurate, and the property manager I deal with didn't raise any objection when I let him know my new one. And my phone provider is no longer BT (it was when I moved in, though) - I'm with Talk Talk now, line rental and all. So presumably if the next tenant after me wants BT, (s)he'll have to pay their full connection fee.

My guess is that this is effectively a legacy clause from the days before the privatisation and deregulation of telecoms, possibly put there for the reason cartimandua suggests (some sort of bulk contract). I wouldn't have thought it would have any relevance now, though, not least because any new tenant coming in is likely to want to bring their phone number with them unless they've moved from outside the area code.

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Very rarely a new number actually unless someone has paid to take it with them.

I was offered a new number the last time that I took over a line

tim

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Given that BT generally cancels the line when someone moves out, makes the new tenant pay a connection fee, and allocates a new number, I'm not sure what they're on at.

You don't pay a connection fee unless your house has no line to it, which it would in these circumstances.

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My current tenancy has a similar clause relating to the electric supply but not the phone. I've assumed it's all part of the 'joy' of renting.

They can't actually do that unless the LL pays the electricity for you. It's your right to shop around on the open market.

Probably the LL/LA get some kind of commission to keep you on there (is it Spark energy by any chance?).

Anyway, it's bull**** so don't put up with it. Get the cheapest leccy you can find.

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You don't pay a connection fee unless your house has no line to it, which it would in these circumstances.

Sadly this is often not true. All of our houses that we rent to students have phone lines, but most years when one group move out, and the line is deactivated in late June, the new tenants get charged a "connection fee" in late September.

Even though the house has a working phone line.

The companies are just greedy. And given that they now cannot make as much from call charges, due to having to bundle in land line calls for free, fees for "connection" help make up their revenue.

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Sadly this is often not true. All of our houses that we rent to students have phone lines, but most years when one group move out, and the line is deactivated in late June, the new tenants get charged a "connection fee" in late September.

Even though the house has a working phone line.

The companies are just greedy. And given that they now cannot make as much from call charges, due to having to bundle in land line calls for free, fees for "connection" help make up their revenue.

I thought BT now had a minimum contract period of 12 months? (Genuine question BTW - affects my student lets.) In which case it would just be a name switch?

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Sadly this is often not true. All of our houses that we rent to students have phone lines, but most years when one group move out, and the line is deactivated in late June, the new tenants get charged a "connection fee" in late September.

Even though the house has a working phone line.

The companies are just greedy. And given that they now cannot make as much from call charges, due to having to bundle in land line calls for free, fees for "connection" help make up their revenue.

Every time I've moved house I've just been given a new number with no additional connection fees charged. I've been using the same account with BT for about 5 years now and just take it with me, but never had to pay to have the line reactivated.

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The way I would look at such a clause would be what possible punishment' could there be if you had the audacity to take the phone number with you. I cant think of any loss that the landlord (or even an incoming tenant) might suffer from you breaking such a clause.

So the clause would appear pretty useless.

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My current tenancy has a similar clause relating to the electric supply but not the phone. I've assumed it's all part of the 'joy' of renting.

That is as enforceable as a clause requiring you to buy your food shopping from Sainsburys.

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I have a clause saying I can't change electricity supplier which seems rather odd to me.

Yes you can.

In fairness though, let the LA know who IS the supplier or it causes no end of hassle, probably for the next tenant!

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Yes you can.

In fairness though, let the LA know who IS the supplier or it causes no end of hassle, probably for the next tenant!

This is why landlords put this in. There's no other reason for it that the landlord would care about.

To try to avoid the problems that arise for the next tenant when they ask the LL who bills them for electricity and gas, and he tells them "company x" and they phone up and are told "no we don't".

We have had this quite a few times.

It can be annoying especially when you KNOW that the previous supplier is one of the cheapest anyway, and they probably only changed supplier because of one of those dodgy door-to-door salesmen who claim to be "from the gas board" and ask people to sign stuff without actually telling them they are changing supplier!

There's a special phone number you can call for gas - where a robotic voice system asks the address and postcode and then tells you who the supplier is - its 0870 608 1524 - very handy.

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This is why landlords put this in. There's no other reason for it that the landlord would care about.

I always thought these clauses were intended for cases where the landlord was only temporarily renting out their own home and didn't want the tenant to walk off with their long-standing phone number.

Edited by thecrashingisles

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You don't pay a connection fee unless your house has no line to it, which it would in these circumstances.

You obviously haven't moved recently.

It is now common to get charged unless you take over the phone on the same day that the outgoing tenant moves out. BT's previous offer to connect you for free if the line is in place no longer applies.

tim

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I would have thought it preferable to either get a new number, or take your existing one with you, so you don't get people calling up asking to speak to the previous tenant...

There can't be many people who choose to keep the same number as was previously used at the same house.

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You obviously haven't moved recently.

It is now common to get charged unless you take over the phone on the same day that the outgoing tenant moves out. BT's previous offer to connect you for free if the line is in place no longer applies.

tim

Actually, I moved 3 weeks ago into a house that had been unoccupied for 4 months. BT did not charge me a connection fee. I can only assume they saw you coming.

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Actually, I moved 3 weeks ago into a house that had been unoccupied for 4 months. BT did not charge me a connection fee. I can only assume they saw you coming.

It wasn't me (I had to pay because none of the previous tenants had had the phone connected).

I got the info from a report on a TV program (Working Lunch perhaps?)

tim

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There's a special phone number you can call for gas - where a robotic voice system asks the address and postcode and then tells you who the supplier is - its 0870 608 1524 - very handy.

The same applies for electricity. The supply comes from one source dependent on the area. The billing company use the same supply lines. I can't remember what the number is, you only need to ask one of the utility companies.

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It wasn't me (I had to pay because none of the previous tenants had had the phone connected).

I got the info from a report on a TV program (Working Lunch perhaps?)

tim

Well, all I can say is that my very recent experience tells me BT do not charge simple to turn a phone line back on. If they had I'd probably have just gone to Virgin Media.

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