Landlords Can't Force You To Sign Up With One Cable Co... But Can Charge You Extra For Water If You Pick Wrong

from the loopholes dept

For many years, cable/telco/satellite companies would do "exclusive" deals with apartment buildings and other developers, which would limit what services could be offered in those buildings. Back in 2007, the FCC stepped in to say such deals were illegal. But, of course, there are always loopholes. Broadband Reports highlights how a bunch of buildings are using loopholes like telling you can chose any cable company you like... but if you choose a different one they have to pay an extra $40 for water and trash. And... the FCC says these kinds of deals are legal, for now, though it may move against them soon. But, in the meantime, your landlord can effectively force you to choose a cable/telco/broadband provider.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2010 @ 4:54am

    Is there an ETF if you decide to move ?

     

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    haha.hehe.hoho, Jan 15th, 2010 @ 4:56am

    smash the landlord into next week

    perhaps we need osm crack heads to step up and do in a few landlords over cable choices
    would look funny as hell in court

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2010 @ 5:17am

    Seems like it would be hard to make this illegal...

    I am unsure of why landlords are doing the way you describe. It would make more sense to advise tenants that if they go with a certain cable company that they get $40 off their monthly bill. This way the amount is an incentive rather than a penalty.

    Because landlords could make this an incentive rather than a penalty, how could you legislate against it? Landlords add incentives all the times (sign a one year lease and get one month free, or a portion of the deposit is waived, etc.).

    Regardless of whether we like what landlords are doing, we still live in a relatively free market. If people do not like what a particular landlord is doing, they can always choose another place to live.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2010 @ 8:22am

      Re: Seems like it would be hard to make this illegal...

      The management probably charges the resident the extra $40 because they (the management) is probably paying to subsidize the cost of the cable service. So, a way to recoup their losses is to charge the people who don't use it. Seems like silly logic to me but, people in management positions seem to have wool over their eyes.

      And it is indeed a free market and people have a right to choose their cable provider or even choose not to have a cable provided and be free of any frivolous penalties somebody wants to place on them for not choosing what they suggest. And what if this was taking place in a small town that only had 1 major apartment complex? There would be no realistic alternative. The "Free Market" argument goes both ways.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2010 @ 11:15am

        Re: Re: Seems like it would be hard to make this illegal...

        And what if this was taking place in a small town that only had 1 major apartment complex?

        Move to a different town.

         

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      L., Sep 4th, 2012 @ 3:47pm

      Re: Seems like it would be hard to make this illegal...

      Sometimed You're stuck with your child's school and the best rate for your apartment. SORRY.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2010 @ 5:34am

    Funny, I have never run into this problem.... but maybe that is because there has only ever been ONE CABLE COMPANY in any city I've ever lived in.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2010 @ 11:16am

      Re:

      ...there has only ever been ONE CABLE COMPANY in any city I've ever lived in.

      But there are plenty of other cities.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Sep 3rd, 2013 @ 10:47am

      Re: Only one cable co?

      I grew up in Union NJ. Yes in 4/1976 Cablevision had Total control But for $17.50 a mo. We had HBO on "2" sets in 2 rooms

       

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    Greg Knaddison (profile), Jan 15th, 2010 @ 5:43am

    what do we expect for nothing?

    The apartment buildings get free or subsidized installation of wiring to their premises and sometimes into the building IF they then guarantee certain subscription levels to the telco provider. If they don't meet the levels the apartment developer is on the hook to pay for the wiring that they previously got for free.

    I guess the alternative is that apartments could be more expensive. I fail to see how that's an improvement.

     

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      Dark Helmet (profile), Jan 15th, 2010 @ 6:29am

      Re: what do we expect for nothing?

      "The apartment buildings get free or subsidized installation of wiring to their premises and sometimes into the building IF they then guarantee certain subscription levels to the telco provider. If they don't meet the levels the apartment developer is on the hook to pay for the wiring that they previously got for free."

      Okay, there are several reasons why this is a non-starter.

      1. If the installs are free/subsidized, then it shouldn't be a huge problem to pay what the normal fee would have been anyway if subscription levels aren't up to par.

      2. In your equation, the Telco gets a benefit of the deal, the building developer/owner gets a benefit of the deal, but what is the tenant getting out of all this? Certainly I, someone who has lived in several apartments throughout my adult life, have never seen any great price benefits in cable-uniformed apartment buildings.

      "I guess the alternative is that apartments could be more expensive. I fail to see how that's an improvement."

      How? It varies by area, but in Chicago apartments are already crazy expensive. The nice thing is that landlords are constantly at war with other neighborhoods, and this type of price hikes while not providing any benefit is the very reason why our neighborhoods constantly cycle in terms of popularity. One year Wicker Park is a dump. The next year it's the reasonably priced home of artists.

      Having said all that, I will be trying your Chicken Ragout recipe tonight. You damn well better hope it's good, or feel the wrath of the Helmet thou shall....

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2010 @ 7:17am

        Re: Re: what do we expect for nothing?

        The tenant gets a discount on their rental rates. See when the costs are not transferred to the landlord then the landlord does not feel the need to pass them on to the renter.

         

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      Landyn, Jan 23rd, 2012 @ 10:46am

      Re: what do we expect for nothing?

      I expect nothing for nothing. I don't want their shitty wiring! I'll pay for my own from a company of my choosing and then I can hold the company that I chose accountable for their terrible service on every level. Aren't their commerce laws about this shit. Fucking Sherman Anti Trust laws!

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2010 @ 6:10am

    Years ago in Rockford, Illinois, cable came to town. In an attempt to "wire" apartment buildings, the cable company offered the apt. building owner "free" local service to their tennants for allowing the cable company to "wire" the building.

    As years passed and the cable company would sell out to another cable company, the original deal has been forgotten. Even though COMCAST admits that such deals were frequently used to get apt. buildings "wired" for cable TV, COMCAST doesn't feel that they are obligated to honor the agreement that was iitially made some 35+ yrs ago.

    The net result is: any renter in an apartment building must pay for "basic" cable service.

     

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    Brandon, Jan 15th, 2010 @ 6:29am

    Now it happens!

    Twice I've lived in apartments owned by the same company and in both cases, your only cable choice was their own cable. The maintenance shed had several large satellite dishes and in both places the cable consisted of something like 40 or 50 channels, and it was quite a bit extra if you wanted to add HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, or Starz, the only premium channels offered if I remember. And as for internet, unless you wanted dial-up, you had to use their own internet service as well! Of course, I guess both of those times were before 2007.

     

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    Lee Stevens, Jan 15th, 2010 @ 6:33am

    The cable companies are trying to achieve a monopoly over the
    video signals that you receive.they want to charge the consumers as much as they can and pay the providers as little as they can so they can make the maximum profits.
    They get away with this by saying running the cable and maintaining the equipment costs us a fortune. IT does not its all ready been paid for 20 times over.In large part because they havent done what they said they would do and that is wire the whole country.They go so far as to make deals with landlords to go the extra and illegal distance of hassleing and threatening eviction to people who want to put up Sat Dishes.Att was broken up only to come back.
    Landlords unless they are paying for utilities as part of the rent have no business decideing what information pipe I use.Its also interesting to note that in this swindle they called upgrade to HDTV the broadcast bandwidth is being sold back to broadcasters to sell subscription broadcast TV on proprietary sets and devices.Im for getting rid of traditional TV cable going back to a free strong broadcast TV and high speed internet cable.In order not to undercut or overprice either market the broadcaster have to go one or the other not both.

     

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    Phillip, Jan 15th, 2010 @ 7:51am

    Insider view

    As someone who negotiates these type of deals I can say they are bad deals. If your property wants to provide a certain brand of cable to its tenants but you don't have our brand there then fine we will run it to you. If you want to tell us that you will only allow our company in and 75% of the units will use us then fine its free. If you tell me you don't like that then its going to cost $50-75k to wire your building. I know they could have the building wired by a low voltage guy for oh maybe $5k and to hook up to us is about 10 minutes worth of work, but they don't know that. Its all about making money in these kinds of deals for the cable company.

     

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    micmac (profile), Jan 15th, 2010 @ 7:56am

    local operators

    Many large apartment complexes and mobile home parks operate their own cable or make a deal with a local operator. Thus, even when there is only one cable company for the city at large, that cable is not available to the residents. The only service available is the special operator at rates that are significantly higher for less service.

     

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    :), Jan 15th, 2010 @ 9:01am

    Dumb Landlords.

    Entering a exclusive contract for anything is not good if I was the landlord I would call all cable companies and milk each and everyone of them.

    Better yet I would build my own wiring and make the cable companies pay me for letting them sign subscribers. They would be using my infra-structure to pass their signals so I would rent that for them.

    Very quickly cable companies would pass some law forbidding the practice if there is not one already.

     

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    :), Jan 15th, 2010 @ 9:07am

    Worth noting.

    2 years ago the FCC got involved because AT&T and Verizon complained loudly about the practice.

    It probably had nothing to do with consumer rights at all.

     

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    Coyote, Jan 15th, 2010 @ 9:13am

    People aren't being charged "Extra" for not using it...

    They simply have to pay the $40 no matter if they use it or not. That's the rub, so to say, of RUBs (Resident Utility Billing). A lot of places (like where I live) meter gas and water per building, and the bill is split based on occupancy and unit size. Not individual use. That's fine for utilities where you don't have a choice of provider (water,sewer,trash) and there's a universal need for the utility. Some even make electricity a shared bill (though with a choice of energy providers it's not a good idea.)

    The problem with putting cable, internet, telephone on the RUB is that not everyone will want said utility. They might not have a use for it (landline? why???) or they might want a different provider, but they will pay for it because it is available in their apartment.

     

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    PRMan, Jan 15th, 2010 @ 10:11am

    Things to check...

    Things to check before you rent an apartment or buy a condo...

     

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    Nathan (profile), Jan 15th, 2010 @ 10:37am

    The problem with this has always been that telcos were exempt. So the apartrment complex I live in has AT&T DSL/U-Verse and nothing else. But what amazes me is the number of my neighbors, who hate AT&T and are willing to forego internet/TV because of it. Or in my case, pay more to use a 3G modem. Wimax can't come soon enough.

     

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    Free Capitalist (profile), Jan 15th, 2010 @ 10:58am

    I once had to move to get HD

    In what was billed as a 'luxury' apartment building (a specious claim to begin with), the owning company had a lock down deal with a sat tv provider. Of course the sat company had no justification whatsoever to upgrade their equipment and wiring since every unit with TV was forced to buy their crappy service.

    At least I have my priorities straight.

     

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      Sara, Sep 18th, 2013 @ 9:57am

      Re: I once had to move to get HD

      Well it looks like I'm going to have to move too! (and I just moved in!)
      $75 dollars for basic internet 1 Mgpr and TV cable (and I don't have a TV). So basically its $75 for basic SLOW internet
      Now competitors (att) have $40 for 12 GB
      Thats less money and a lot more services

      $75 ON TOP of the RENT!!! (not included with it)

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2010 @ 11:25am

    Authority?

    Does the FCC the legal authority to regulate this? Since some are questioning the FCC's authority to regulate net neutrality, this would seem even more questionable.

     

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    nraddin, Jan 15th, 2010 @ 3:55pm

    Why shouldn't they be able too?

    Don't they own the building? Didn't you choose the live there? Why should they be forced to allow every tom dick and harry cable,phone, or internet provider hack up the wiring in their builds? What happened to thier right to choose what is best for thier business?

     

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      Hannah, Jun 2nd, 2010 @ 1:56pm

      Re: Why shouldn't they be able too?

      We pay to live where we live, we should get to choose. They own the property but we pay for it.

       

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      John, Jan 24th, 2012 @ 3:40am

      Re: Why shouldn't they be able too?

      Landlords are not the consumer. Their tenants are. What right do they have to charge tenants for a product that they do not want or need? It may be their wiring and their pipes, but they're being compensated for use of those already. It is called "rent". The argument that one provider or the other will not "hack up" their wiring is flimsy. They all do it. It's dependent on the individual technicians.

       

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    Ed C., Jan 16th, 2010 @ 10:59pm

    Info please!

    I just got blindsided with this BS myself and I would like to know where I can get info about the FCC ruling. My current ISP kind of sucks sometimes, but the new provider that's taking over is more than $10 higher on their listed rates for the same speed tier I'm getting now. The landlord says that their "deal" will be cheaper, but it will probably be too late to do anything by the time I find out. I guess I could always look into DSL...

     

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    Hannah, Jun 2nd, 2010 @ 1:53pm

    Complex telling me I don't even have a choice

    I read that complexes are allowed to say "use this company or pay extra", but I've heard it's not okay to say "You may only use this company and no other". Well my apartment complex is telling me I can't use any company except for Grande Communications. I had already signed up with AT&T and am due to have service installed in a week, however I have to get the apartments permission to install. Is this legal? They told me to cancel AT&T because they have a contract with this other company and that is the only company I am allowed to use. If this is legal, this is ridiculous.

     

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    Tom, Jan 19th, 2011 @ 4:21pm

    Hannah, that is totally against the last ruling by the FCC.

     

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    Rob Gower, Feb 8th, 2011 @ 5:57am

    FCC Links about exclusive contracts with apartment buildings

     

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    Dissatisfied, May 15th, 2012 @ 11:59am

    Deposit

    My complex turned our internet with our current provider without notifying our provider, they only notified us... Now the company they are twisting our wrist to go with (ATT) wants a $400 deposit!! my question is should this deposit be covered through our complex or are my wife and I SOL???

     

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    Karen, Apr 13th, 2013 @ 6:55pm

    Forcing one satellite tv service on condo winners

    Can my HOA force me to use DISH over Direct tv when there is nothing in the declarations or bylaws and they allow DISH tv satellites on the roof.
    Thans!

     

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    anonymous, Sep 10th, 2013 @ 11:45am

    The truth of the matter is cablevision pay landlords n the Bronx county X amount of Dollars 2 keep the as the only provider. I wonder if Verizon tried something like that the PSC wud penalize them. SO where is your so called from of choice.??????

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 19th, 2014 @ 10:12am

    LAST I HEARD THIS IS STILL AMERICA,SINCE WHEN CAN THE LAND LORD TELL YOU WHAT CABLE CO.TO GET,ARE THEY GETTING A KICK BACK OR WHAT THE H..?

     

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