Does right to 'quiet and peaceful enjoyment' extend to phone?

flightfulbirdSeptember 4, 2007

We moved into our apartment in July 2006 and are still receiving multiple phone calls for the previous tenant (who apparently ran a business out of the apartment and has the number listed in many online directories). I left a message (voicemail, haven't spoken directly to him) at what I think is his current work number, to let him know that his clients are trying to reach him at this number - and asked if he would change the numbers in the directories to his current listing. He has not called back so I am reluctant to give out the number that I think is his, first of all because I'm not sure it is his and also because I shouldn't have to be his answering service - it is his responsibility to make sure he is accessible.

The phone rings alot and it is very rarely for us. We have a machine and can screen, obviously, but is there another way to approach this, short of changing the number? Not all of the callers are clients - some are collectors and I am sure they think I am covering for him when I say we have lived here since July 2006 and that I have no connection to XXXXXXXX (either the business or the individual).

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I had a similar problem in one apt I lived in. I kept getting calls for a business, except the funny thing was - the old number that customers were dialing was a toll free number that! And it was connected to my new phone number! That was pretty sweet - my BF & I gave all our out of town friends & family members the toll free number. :o) That was probably not very ethical in hindsight...

Anyways, I would suggest changing your number. It really isn't your responsibility to be an answering service to the former tenant and I imagine it is also quite annoying for you te be getting these calls all the time.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2007 at 8:52PM
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Just change your number - one call to the company and that should be it.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2007 at 5:35AM
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I don't understand how you ended up with the number of the previous tenent. The odds of that happening are astronomical. Are you SURE the calls you are getting are for the former tenent and not someone else who had the same number?

When you get new phone service for an apartment a number is computer genterated for you. The number you get has to have been out of service for a set time to avoid things like this happening. It used to be a two year time frame, but now days since they are running out of number combinations the time period is less as they cannot 'park' a phone number for two years.

Just change your number.

The only way, what you say, could be happening is if you are living in a resident hotel where phone service is included in your rent and there is a switch board that transfers calls from a XXX-X000 type number. Then you could get still be getting calls intended for the previous occupant. In this type of case just have the switchboard screen your calls. All they have to do is ask "Are you trying to reach [Mr.Smith]?". If not the call is not put through. Easy.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2007 at 3:10PM
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I think you are right, bud - I think this guy might have lived in the same complex (as a coincidence) because it was close to his work - and our number is his previous work number (the address that corresponds to "our" phone number in these online directories is just down the street from our complex). At first I was thinking he lived in this same apartment - makes more sense that it was his work number and he just didn't update it at all these sites.

Seems best to just change the number. We use our cels for everything anyway - the only reason we have a landline is for DSL (complex isn't wired for cable, only for DirecTV, not sure why they did that but they did). Thanks very much to everyone who responded !

    Bookmark   September 5, 2007 at 11:13PM
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if you use your cell phones for everything, are ANY of those calls for you? Who would call you on that number? The phone company itself, maybe--but if there were a problem w/ your bill or something, they'd write first. All their other calls would be basically telemarketing calls.

So otherwise, anyone who really wanted to reach *you* would have been given your cell phone number. And all those calls would be telemarketing or wrong number.

What if you turned off the ringer on that phone?

And maybe put an answering machine on it, w/ the sound turned off, that said, "This number is for outgoing calls only. No incoming calls are accepted. If you are trying to reach Mr. Whatisface, this is no longer his number."

Anybody that *you* would want to speak to will call you on your cell.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2007 at 10:36AM
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Bird, now you are saying that you know that the address that corresponds to your number in older directories is one that is down the street, not your address and apartment number. This makes nore sense.

" I think this guy might have lived in the same complex." and "At first I was thinking he lived in this same apartment." So it was just a guess on your part.

Your new version of your story makes sense: You got a computer generated number that the phone company had parked for a while, but it is still listed in online directories as belonging to this other guy's business so you get his calls. OK.

The easiest way to solve your problem is to do what Talley said. (If you change your number the same problem could crop up.)

That is the big problem with online directories or aggregate sites. They don't get updated and people end up calling numbers that have been reassigned.

I found this problem recently when trying to call B&B's for a reservation, and like half of the listings had out of date phone numbers with very irritated people answering. A friend of mine opened a samll nightclub and the number he got had been a cab service that was still listed everywhere online. His phone rang off the hook. Another friend got a number that apparently had belonged to an escort service at one time. There weren't a lot of calls but those that came in were obviously not welcome. It helps to have a sense of humor.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2007 at 2:46PM
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Yeah bud, you are right - but it's not like I'm making different versions of my story, just sorting things out with all of your help. You have absolutely helped figure this out. I really thought he lived here before we did - it hadn't occurred to me at that point that it might be tied to a different address. For some reason, in my mind it was like the phone number was assigned to the phone jacks in this exact apartment in which we live (lame I know)...and not to the person or business itself.

It seemed to click in my mind when I read your first post - when you said "Are you SURE the calls you are getting are for the former tenent and not someone else who had the same number?" I looked again in the online directories after reading that post (found all those sites originally by googling our current phone number) and noticed that you could click an additional link to get the address and a map - and all the listings for that number had the same address, which is amazingly close to our apartments - and the listing is for the guy for whom these people are asking when they call.

So, I no longer think he lived in our exact apartment and whether he lived in the same complex to be so close to work, or not- it definitely looks like this is his old number and it got reassigned to us like bud said. Since we have no idea whether this guy is going to update his number on all those sites even though he has been advised he is missing multiple calls each day, I really like the idea of just turning off the ringer and recording what talley sue said as a new outgoing message. Thanks talley sue, really ! Bud thank you too - I can for sure admit I am sort of a ditz. . .

    Bookmark   September 6, 2007 at 9:03PM
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Well you are not a ditz.

I asked some questions because sometimes posters do not give all the into in their initial post. In order to help sometimes more info is needed. For all we know you forgot to mention that you lived in a resident hotel apartment and you certainly could be getting a former tenents calls through the switchboard. This type of situation would require a different solution.

Unfortunately the guy probably cannot have the listing removed from the online directories. There are websites who operate independantly, that gather info from sources without permission to publish. The guy may not have any control over it and may not even realize his info has been added to an online directory. I've had some friends with small businesses whose info wound up in online directories and they did not want it there. They were listed next to similar businesses who were not up to the same caliber as theirs or were only remotely related. They thought it looked bad to be associated with the others. The webmasters do not respond to requests to have info removed. Or requests are met with a "So sue me!" attitude. I guess once it's out on the Internet its forever.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2007 at 1:26AM
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We had a similar situation for a while. Because we didn't have cell phones, and needed the land line, I recorded a message on the machine that said 'Hi. You've reached ppl who are NOT Sally, Joe, Billy, or Bud. If you're calling for the ppl who DO live here, pls leave a message.' After a while the calls dropped off.

There were only a few calls a day tho. Not like a business w/ calls constantly. It did kind of seem like they'd skipped town w/o telling anyone their new number.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2007 at 12:56PM
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Years ago we had a phone number that was one number off the YMCA. Daily we had telephone calls asking all sorts of questions pertaining to the Y. This was in the days before cell phones so we had to have our land line. Finally it got so bad we had my (then) four year old son record a message that said, "This is not the Y. Please call XXXXXXX for the YMCA."

    Bookmark   November 29, 2007 at 9:23PM
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Same exact thing when my boyfriend and I got a phone line for our DSL. This phone would ring constantly, and it was always bill collectors looking for whoever apparently had the number before we did. We both pretty much use cell phones for everything, though, so we just shut off the ringer. The best thing to do, though, if you do use the phone is to just call the phone company and see what they can do about it. I'm sure it's a very common issue that they know how to handle.
Good luck! I understand how annoying it is...

    Bookmark   January 2, 2008 at 11:54PM
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I moved into a new house about 10 years ago and for the first 6 months I got telemarketing calls for the previous owner of the number almost every day. I still get a call every now and then.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2008 at 8:29AM
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We've had our same phone number for 37 years.
About 8 years ago we started getting calls from fax machines and would hear "beep... beep... beep" when we picked up the phone. Sometimes the calls started at 7 a.m. and were on automatic redial so it rang every 5 minutes for 30 minutes straight! I'd come home from work and have 15 calls on my answering machine and had to listen to every call before I could delete them all (old cassette tape machine). Other times I'd run to answer the phone only to hear "beep... beep... beep". I finally had to add Caller ID at $6/mo so I could find out who was doing this.

Turns out, my number was 1 digit off from the accounts payable dept fax number of a local building supply company, and they gave my number out to their suppliers. It still happens occasionally but thankfully not as much. I asked them to change their fax number but they refused.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2008 at 6:49AM
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