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Money Moral Dilemma: My tenants left without cancelling their broadband - should I keep using it?

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Money Moral Dilemma: My tenants left without cancelling their broadband - should I keep using it?

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MSE_KelvinMSE_Kelvin MSE Staff
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MSE Staff
This week's MoneySaver who wants advice asks...

I'm a landlord and recently moved into one of my flats that was previously let to tenants that left without paying several months' rent. I discovered they hadn't cancelled the broadband, so I've been getting it for nothing. Given they owe me money and seemingly don't check their bank accounts, do I really have to contact them about cancelling it - or should I just keep using it?

Unfortunately the MSE team can't always answer money moral dilemma questions as contributions are often emailed in or suggested in person. They are intended to be a point of debate and discussed at face value. 

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Replies

  • eddddyeddddy Forumite
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    Rather than looking at it as a moral question, it might be more important to consider whether it is a criminal offence under the Communications Act 2003 or the Computer Misuse Act 1990.

    People have been prosecuted for using other peoples broadband without consent. Typically they've been piggy-backing, but this example sounds like it would fall foul of the same laws.

    Communications Act 2003
    125 Dishonestly obtaining electronic communications services
    (1) A person who—
          (a) dishonestly obtains an electronic communications service, and
          (b) does so with intent to avoid payment of a charge applicable to the provision of that service,
    is guilty of an offence.
    ...
    (3) A person guilty of an offence under this section shall be liable—
    (a)on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum, or to both;
    (b) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or to a fine, or to both.

    Link: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2003/21/part/2/chapter/1/crossheading/offences-relating-to-networks-and-services/enacted?view=plain


    Here's some examples:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/4721723.stm

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/hereford/worcs/6565079.stm

  • Comms69Comms69 Forumite
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    eddddy said:

    Rather than looking at it as a moral question, it might be more important to consider whether it is a criminal offence under the Communications Act 2003 or the Computer Misuse Act 1990.

    People have been prosecuted for using other peoples broadband without consent. Typically they've been piggy-backing, but this example sounds like it would fall foul of the same laws.

    Communications Act 2003
    125 Dishonestly obtaining electronic communications services
    (1) A person who—
          (a) dishonestly obtains an electronic communications service, and
          (b) does so with intent to avoid payment of a charge applicable to the provision of that service,
    is guilty of an offence.
    ...
    (3) A person guilty of an offence under this section shall be liable—
    (a)on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum, or to both;
    (b) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or to a fine, or to both.

    Link: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2003/21/part/2/chapter/1/crossheading/offences-relating-to-networks-and-services/enacted?view=plain


    Here's some examples:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/4721723.stm

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/hereford/worcs/6565079.stm

    Ive noticed a lot of MSE's moral dilemmas totally ignore the obvious criminal ramifications. 
  • Grumpy_chapGrumpy_chap Forumite
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    @OP - no moral dilemma.  It is theft, some as.
    Also likely to undermine any claim you have against the former tenant if you want to pursue the unpaid rent.
    It is the former tenant's responsibility to cancel the broadband, but that doesn't make it anyone's to use in the meantime.
  • Grumpy_chapGrumpy_chap Forumite
    3.2K posts
    Sixth Anniversary 1,000 Posts Name Dropper Combo Breaker
    ✭✭✭✭
    @OP - no moral dilemma.  It is theft, some as.
    Also likely to undermine any claim you have against the former tenant if you want to pursue the unpaid rent.
    It is the former tenant's responsibility to cancel the broadband, but that doesn't make it anyone's to use in the meantime.
  • brett19852010brett19852010 Forumite
    314 posts
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    People are less likely to view something as a dilemma if one of the options is a criminal act.
  • Crashy_TimeCrashy_Time Forumite
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    10,000 Posts Sixth Anniversary Name Dropper
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    Comms69 said:
    eddddy said:

    Rather than looking at it as a moral question, it might be more important to consider whether it is a criminal offence under the Communications Act 2003 or the Computer Misuse Act 1990.

    People have been prosecuted for using other peoples broadband without consent. Typically they've been piggy-backing, but this example sounds like it would fall foul of the same laws.

    Communications Act 2003
    125 Dishonestly obtaining electronic communications services
    (1) A person who—
          (a) dishonestly obtains an electronic communications service, and
          (b) does so with intent to avoid payment of a charge applicable to the provision of that service,
    is guilty of an offence.
    ...
    (3) A person guilty of an offence under this section shall be liable—
    (a)on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum, or to both;
    (b) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or to a fine, or to both.

    Link: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2003/21/part/2/chapter/1/crossheading/offences-relating-to-networks-and-services/enacted?view=plain


    Here's some examples:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/4721723.stm

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/hereford/worcs/6565079.stm

    Ive noticed a lot of MSE's moral dilemmas totally ignore the obvious criminal ramifications. 
    And the obvious fact that using broadband for a few days until they don`t pay that bill either isn`t going to bring back thousands in missed rent.
  • onwards&upwardsonwards&upwards Forumite
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    This is not a moral dilemma, this is someone wanting approval for doing something they clearly know is wrong. 
  • dimbo61dimbo61 Forumite
    11.3K posts
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Photogenic
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    So the Landlord rented out the property so had consent to let or a BTL mortgage ?
    If the Landlord moves back in and he/she has a BTL mortgage there are breaking the T and C s of the mortgage.
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