Landline Requirement?

The property manager who handles our vacation rental property wants all properties that he manages to have a landline. We have great cell phone service as well as internet and WIFI at our property so we reluctantly installed a landline years ago (with no long distance service). PM did not say it is legally required to have landline so we think we can remove it and eliminate that expense. What is your experience regarding landline requirements in your vacation rental? Our property is in North Carolina. Thanks in advance.

I don’t think it’s a requirement but it’s good to have especially if there is an emergency because 911 can trace the call. God forbid there’s an emergency and the guest can’t recall the address and is using a cellphone, 911 can’t trace the call to get an address. Also during a hurricane cell phone towers might be damaged in the area leaving a guest with no service. Also if there is a blackout and guest’s cellphone is not charged, they can’t call 911. What if the person is having a heart attack? How do they call 911 if their phone is dead? A bare bone landline shouldn’t be too expensive.

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As someone who lives in hurricane alley, and one of my daughters living in another hurricane alley, I can tell you that if a hurricane is strong enough to damage cell towers, it likely will knock out the landlines as well.

About 7 years ago, there was a big hurricane where my daughter lives. They had no telecommunications at all- I tried phoning both her cell and her landline several times a day. No internet either. I didn’t know whether she was alive or dead for 6 days. And in fact, they got the cell service back before the landline, because the telephone poles had been blown down.

The only way any communication was happening with the outside world was from boaters who were able to use their radio phones to get messages in and out.

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A few years ago when we were renewing our license, I saw on the website that STRs were legally obliged to have a landline in order to get their license.

But we hadn’t had a landline for years.

When the inspector came to do the routine check, I went off on one about how stupid the landline requirement was.

Luckily he agreed and gave us a 100% rating for STR.

:slight_smile:

Friends who had a rental on Topsail island in the early 90’s had a no long distance land line. It was in the Rental Regulations for vacation rentals.

They kept it because cellular service was unreliable. (Verizon ok , AT& T not). They were self-managing.

They sold the home last year. The new owner is with a local property manager. I don’t see a phone in their pictures.

I just tried to search the regs. I couldn’t find a landline requirement mentioned.

I’m in SC & no one I know with beach STR has a landline.

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What is a landline?

(I’m joking… I know what it is, I just haven’t had one for years. Do we also need a fax?)

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I don’t have a landline in my home. So I didn’t add it to my rentals either, even though we are in a senior community. We lived through more than a few hurricane seasons here and the cell phones work more reliably than landlines, that are often tied to satellite or cable tv access.

I interviewed property managers in the area that had a huge list of requirements, that made it obvious that they hadn’t looked through to update them for at least a decade. Things like the landline, putting tvs in every bedroom and requiring all bedrooms have two MATCHING bedside tables. I still have cable at my rentals, but I am definitely rethinking that as it gets more expensive each year and folks tend to prefer streaming platforms.

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We had a landline for years. We still have the number, but it’s no longer a true landline. They’re no longer available here. Our “land line” is now VOIP.

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I just got ride of our cable at home and at the rental. Saved $200 a month : )

@Ritz3 makes solid points about the benefits of a land line.

Like a lot of things there are advantages, but also costs. How much does it cost relative to your other expenses? That’s the business decision you need to make. In some places a landline is inexpensive; in other places expensive.

I certainly would ask the property manager why they request (it sounds like it’s not a requirement or you wouldn’t be posting this) a landline. I’d discuss it and then if you don’t want to incur this expense just explain why.

To @RebeccaF 's point, I hope you’re certain that you really do have a landline and not VOIP.

If you choose to stay with the landline I would add something like this in my listing: Your vacation home includes a cordless landline phone for local calls, which organizations like Consumer Reports recommends. FYI: Why you Shouldn't Abandon your Landline - Consumer Reports Magazine

An interesting article on some innovative alternatives to landlines, not sure if this applies in your area: Is It Safe to Finally Get Rid of Your Landline?


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All landlines are via fiber optic or whatever your cable company has installed. OK, well most are now and the ones that aren’t are being converted. Meaning (as someone who worked in telecom operations) that if the cell towers, power, and cable go out - there goes your phone, too.

The old “your phone will still work in a hurricane with a landline” is now part of the way back machine.

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Not aware of any requirement in my state but we have one anyhow and it has come in handy with knocked out cell service. The cell towers and land service do not always go down at once. Even with a local line, you can keep a phone card with a little balance on it handy and use it for long distance in an emergency.

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Yep same here LOL. Don’t have a landline for my guests either but then I don’t have a property manager telling me what to do. Seriously, can’t see why it’s needed for rental guests.

Just for clarity, in the United States, the FCC required that all cell phones have built in GPS starting in 2019. Most agencies have what is called enhanced 911. When you call 911 from a cell phone, the dispatcher gets your GPS coordinates placed on a map. So, even driving down the freeway, when you report an accident, the dispatcher immediately knows your exact location.

I am sure there are smaller rural agencies that have not upgraded their dispatch systems. So, verify with your local agency before depending on this service. But, in most locations, the old thoughts that dispatch cant get your location from a cell phone no longer applies.
GPS Update: The FCC Sets the Table for GPS Location Technology in Wireless Phones - FindLaw.

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They call it smart911, and it has a website. Take a look. smart911.com

You can fill in smart911 so that the 911 folks have all the information about you that you want them to have, like health conditions, doctor’s names, family members, allergies, blood type, desired hospital, etc. For your own home you could specify whether you have pets (to alert fire responders), number of people in household, language, mobility issues, etc. When seconds count and you might be highly stressed it can be valuable for your first responders to have all your information instantly.

I put a calendar entry to remind myself to log into the smart911 website every six months to make sure everything is up to date. The site asks you to do that; otherwise medical personnel cannot rely on stale information.

To be clear, if there’s time the 911 operator (who in communities that have smart911 will have all your information in front of them) will confirm the information with you.

If you do provide a landline it can be helpful, to your point, to put a label on it with the property’s address. You might also want to provide that information in a central location, like on the refrigerator.

I provide information about 911 in the emergency plan that we’ve developed. It’s attached to the House manual, and is also in every bedroom closet, where emergency food and water for three days as well as other emergency supplies are kept.

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Just to be clear, Enhanced 911 and Smart 911 are different. Enhanced 911 uses the GPS built into your phone (required by the FCC on all new phones) to give your current location and name from the cell phone company. Automatically.
Smart 911 is a voluntary opt in program you can use to provide a safety profile. to 911 centers that subscribe to the program. That safety profile contains the information you enter, not your current location like enhanced 911 does.

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Ahhh. I get it. Thank you for that distinction.

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Not quite true - our landlines are all copper wires, all hardwired. There is no cable available here, and nothing is fiber optic. There is no plan or rumor for converting. It is not money making for AT&T so they aren’t about to invest.

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I edited later to “mostly.” Rural areas still have hardwired land lines. But more urban, suburban, and exurban areas are all fiber optic.

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