Do you need a TV license?

Whether you use it for watching DVD’s, playing video games or even watching programs, almost every student house has at least one TV. And as soon as you set it down the dreaded discussion starts. Do you need a TV license? There are so many different things people believe, The Linc is offering this public service announcement to let you know whether you really do need one.

Firstly, there are some major legal differences between living in halls and living in shared accommodation like a house. The reason the laws are different is because of your tenancy agreement – if your tenancy is shared you can share a TV license, but if you have your own agreement (for example, you live in halls) then you need your own license to watch TV in your room. Don’t forget, you might need a TV license even if you don’t own a TV.


Photo: Edwart Visser (via Flickr)

Simply put, you need your own TV license if either of the following apply to you:

  • You live in halls of residence and use a device to watch or record live TV in your own room.
  • You are sharing a house and use a device to watch or record live TV in your room, and your room is a separately occupied place. (A separate tenancy agreement normally indicates this).

But you only need one TV license for the place you’re living in if you are sharing a house and you either:

  • Use a device to watch or record TV in your own room, but the house can be treated as one place shared by all. (A joint tenancy agreement would usually be evidence that the house is a single licensable place).
  • Only watch or record live TV in a communal area such as a living room.

There’s also a way to watch live TV and not get a TV license at all. If you only watch or record live TV on a device powered by its own internal batteries (like a smartphone or tablet) that is not connected to an aerial or plugged into the mains you can be covered by your parents’ TV license as long as your non-term time permanent address is your parents’ home and they have a TV license. But as soon as you start using it and you plug it in to the mains, you’ll need your own license.

Finally, if you use your TV to do anything other than watch or record live TV or if you only watch programs after they’ve been broadcast on services like the BBC iPlayer, you don’t need a TV license. So you can watch DVD’s, stream last night’s TV or play video games without needing to pay for a license.

Don’t forget, if you need a license it’ll cost you £145.50 for the year and if you don’t pay for one then you can end up in court and stuck with a fine of up to £1,000. If you’re still unsure whether or not you need a license, you can check on the TV licensing agency’s website.

2 Responses to Do you need a TV license?

  1. Factually accurate article about the TV licence (note correct spelling).
    I would highlight that the statutory “Television Licensing Authority” is actually the BBC. There is no such thing as the TV Licensing Agency.

  2. Grant says:

    To re-emphasise – you don’t need to pay this tax for “catch-up” or web-streaming services. If you don’t watch or record TV as it is broadcast, you __don’t__ need to pay this extortionate tax.