OpenRent Community

Tenant installed additional BT Fibre line without permission

A couple of weeks ago my tenant asked if he could get a BT fibre line installed in the flat. There is already a fully operational BT line for phone and broadband that he is using. He and his girlfriend are working from home so I understood why he wanted this. My response was that I would consider it if the cable can be fully run inside the walls/ceiling like the existing cable. No drilling or chasing out channels in the walls (the tenancy agreement is very clear on this point). The new terminal to be adjacent to the existing one and the existing line to be kept live. He understood and agreed that he would inform me when an engineer visits to see if this was going to be possible. Two days ago, I got a phone call telling me that the (Openreach?) engineer had been and installed the line and not how I had specified. The tenant told me that he had been at his offices and that his girlfriend had let the engineer in. A hole had been drilled through my wall and the cable run along the door frame and skirting and two new boxes fixed to a wall in the entrance hallway – not next to the existing box in the living room. I am not pleased.

I have agreed to let the tenant keep the new line as he needs better bandwidth. However, I have informed him that he will have to indemnify me against the removal/repositioning of the cable at the end of his tenancy to which he has agreed to verbally. I will document the issue and agreement in an email.

Questions:

  1. Can BT/Openreach install equipment in a property without the owner’s permission? Having checked with BT, they do not ask for ownership details when taking orders for new lines.
    Can I insist that BT remove the cable and make good the holes in my wall?
  2. Can I take a monetary sum from the tenant now (separate to and not from the deposit which is with DPS) against the cost of the cable removal/rerouting and redecoation work? I don’t want the situation that the tenancy ends, the tenant moves out and then I have to deal with it and make a claim against the deposit which will delay its return if no other issues.
  3. What would be a reasonable amount to take? £250? Obviously, I would return any excess once work is complete or make a claim against the deposit for any shortfall.
  4. What else should I take into consideration?

We had a previous tenant do exactly the same thing. No permission from Telecoms company was asked of us. Did inspection and found a wall had a hole in it. It was left to us to rectify.

Tough one. Never happened to me yet but maybe another option could be to fix it after the tenant vacates and make a small claim against him if the cost is more than the deposit.

You do realise having fibre access to a property is a selling point these days. Your tenant has done you a good thing here and why are you being a PIA?

A cable running along the top of your skirting board is not something you need to get angry about surely there are better things in life to deal with than getting aggro from this especially it is actually a good thing.

The hole through the wall is small, you can easily plug it with some foam coating £5 and 10s to do. If you are going to charge your tenant at all for that not even mention the sum of £259 I hope they go to the court with you and put you on some kind of rogue landlord register.

The fact that you are plugging money out of thin air without even getting a quote or something for the supposed repair shows that you are a nasty person.

I honestly hope your tenant find somewhere else to live and a landlord that treat other people as people rather than cash cows. Landlords like you is why the government is charging laws left right and centre to make things harder for the caring and good landlords

I’m seeking input/opinion and I definitely got yours.

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richard 15 is actually right. its done so just get on with it.
better not to upset the tenant now there is no upside in doing that. on the scale of damage this maybe scores a 1. i had a tenant, an electrician make all the circuits unsafe and basically booby trapped the flat with all manner of things, he didnt pay the last month and my agent was too afraid to chase and didnt tell me. one example of many actually

Richard15 is right it is a good selling point and an internet or phone line is hardly anythng (I see the orange has gone)

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Sorry Nilesh
I agree with Colin3 and richard 15. You are being a tad unreasonable.

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As the others have said, your tenant has made your flat more valuable. An important modernisation and you didn’t have to do anything yourself! From you story, it sounds as if your tenant has shown quite a lot of tolerance, others would possibly have given you notice by now. I think the best thing you can do now is to apologise and hope that you can keep your current tenants. If you lose them, you might get new tenants who will cause real trouble.

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Maybe if you’d provided a bit of modernisation your tenant wouldn’t have needed to do it themselves? Looking at available stock, it never ceases to amaze me how many ghastly curtains, avodaco bathrooms and mismatched, grotty kitchens there are out there.

It seems to me that some Landlords are only prepared to make a dwelling habitable at minimum cost to themselves - and they are the first to complain at getting awful tenants!

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Like the others I’m staggered by your attitude to this. Yes it’s annoying but BT installers are not noted for being particularly co-operative about holes and where stuff gets fitted in my experience, and your tenant is not responsible for the BT engineer’s decisions.

One of the effects of renting your house is wear and tear. Stuff like this happens repeatedly, I’d say it would be classed as wear and tear (should you turn this into a formal dispute) which is part and parcel of the business you are in. Your compensation for wear and tear is the rent!

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People are going to be working from home a lot more often, therefore good internet is absolutely vital. You’re being unreasonable about it. Imagine trying to work from home and transferring important files or doing any work on sub par 17mb broadband, which it doesn’t even get the advertised speed. It’s literally unworkable.

I’ve avoided a couple of good properties because internet infrastructure in those areas are absolutely poor.

I hope more landlords do try to work with telecoms company in installing FTTP (Fibre to the Premise).

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Its an unusual situation for me. Thank you all for your input. Duly noted and I will approach this matter with my tenant accordingly. I’m happy to leave the discussion here.

To be clear, I never objected to the installation. There is no intention to fall out with my tenant over this. Note, that I have said the installation can stay. I was fully aware that it is an upgrade to the existing utility and that my tenant wanted it for work - I did state this above. The property is a very well maintained flat in a sought after block not far from Tower Bridge in London. Its not a buy-to-let with trade quality fixtures/fittings and a lick of paint. It lets itself on its space, volume, light, location, aspect and excellent state of repair. I would very happily live there myself. I have and almost certainly will again. I’ve yet to have an unhappy tenant. I manage the property myself and no query goes unresolved and quickly.

Due to access issues and aging infrastructure, there are many building in the area that do not have access to BT fibre broadband. The one I live in is one. This is changing with suppliers such as Hyperoptic and Community Fibre installing new lines. There are leasehold considerations here too. Previous tenants have utilised mobile 4G Wifi (no line needed) if they wanted faster internet access which has excellent coverage in Central London and faster than many fibre packages at similar price points. They did not want to alter the aesthetic of the flat with drill holes and visible cable runs either. My questions were really around 1) Are BT allowed to install without owners permission? 2) The installation being different in key aspects to what had been agreed with the tenant - there are no visible trunking/ducting/cable/pipe runs anywhere else in the flat. Concealed installation is completely possible and had been completed in neighbouring flats with identical layouts.

Just something to think about - If I had made an agreement with someone and then delivered something else, I would fully expect to be made to put it right. If you give your word, you keep it. If you can’t , you go back and try and reach a revised agreement.

Thank you all.

Hi Nilash,

The fact you make this point shows little understanding of internet speeds, line and 4G work.

‘There are leasehold considerations here too. Previous tenants have utilised mobile 4G Wifi (no line needed) if they wanted faster internet access which has excellent coverage in Central London and faster than many fibre packages at similar price points’,

Carry on trying to be a fair landlord but not a justifier on why there decison for better internet should not have been taken when many people use it to make ends meet.

Gaz

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Having had virgin installed at my sisters house i can confirm they dont ask
who owns the property they just turn up and do the work that has been booked.
In regards to what others have said a small hole is not a big deal however you asked them
to install it in the living room next to another box instead they decided to run wire around a room into a hall. Now considering like you im not into visible cable running round a room i would have been pissed. They are not going to be sitting in the hall so i would tell them to book the engineer back to move the box back next to the other one and remove the extra cable. Its enough they didn’t wait for confirmation but to ignore you and mount it in the hall is frankly rude

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I don’t think BT have an obligation to check that the person commissioning the service own the property or are authorised to do so, but I could be wrong on that.

You can charge the tenant for the removal of the cabling at the end (if this is really what you want - some would argue that in a rental property its better to keep it). You can only charge the actual costs or any excess could be a “prohibited fee” so its better to wait until they leave and deduct from the deposit.