I've got broken phone lines coming into my apartment, which four technicians have confirmed (when trying to hook up DSL for my internet service). My apartment lessor refuses to acknowledge the issue is on their wiring.

Do I have any legal recourse to get it repaired?

I don't think there was any mention of phone lines in my contract, but I leased the apartment, seeing phone jacks in the wall, under the assumption that they would actually work.

Is there also a liability issue if I cannot hook up a landline phone, for example to call emergency services?

Location if necessary: Denver, Colorado, United States


2 Answers 2


There may be special legal privileges granted to people leasing an apartment in your jurisdiction, but generally speaking, what the owner has to provide is a habitable dwelling that conforms with the terms of the lease. Not having a phone line does not make a dwelling uninhabitable (unless your locale specifically says so). In California, it is required that the landlord maintain at least one jack and working lines (this is a direct requirement, not expressed in terms of habitability). Not in Chicago (warning: obnoxious talk occurs on that page). Lease terms generally indicate that the owner is responsible for maintaining the "infrastructure" such as wiring.


Given the added information about locale, we can turn to relevant Colorado law. §38-12-505 does not suggest that broken phone lines render a residence uninhabitable. §38-12-212.3 states that

(1) (a) Except as otherwise provided in this section, a landlord shall be responsible for and pay the cost of the maintenance and repair of:

(I) Any sewer lines, utility service lines, or related connections owned and provided by the landlord to the utility pedestal or pad space for a mobile home sited in the park

but it's not clear on the face of it if that helps. There are two reasons why it doesn't. First, the typical understanding of "utility line" pertains to wires or pipes outside the building, which does not help you. The other problem is that this section is under the Mobile Home Park Act, meaning that the clause is intended to apply only to mobile home parks.

  • Also the hook "OWNED AND PROVIDED BY THE LANDLORD". I imagine if the landlord is not providing a phone connection 38-12-212.3 would not apply?
    – davidgo
    Jul 22, 2016 at 1:31

Id pay out of pocket for the fixing.and keep the receipt and when rent comes around tell him you deducted the fix from his rent money and pay the rest of your rent with the money.but keep a copy of the receipt

  • 1
    This is not a legal answer. It gives a "practical" answer, but comes from a layman with no legal perspective.
    – Zizouz212
    Jul 22, 2016 at 20:40
  • 1
    @Zizouz212 In the UK I would expect any lawyer worth his salt to advise course of action that follows precisely Nat's answer. It's called a 'set off'. The tenant has a duty to mitigate his loss (fix a non-working jack) by having it replaced or repaired at his own cost, then setting off this expenditure by deducting it from the next rental payment. The tenant should advise his landlord in writing of his intention to do this, giving the landlord final opportunity to fix problem. There's a caveat: the tenant has to establish an express or implied covenant in the lease to back up this position Nov 22, 2016 at 15:17

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