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Do You Need a TV Licence When Renting?

21 December 2020 Simon Banks Read time: 2 min
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Simon Banks

Hands up who’s a fan of The Great British Bake Off? Or maybe you binge-watch The Crown? Then again, you might enjoy settling down to watch an eye-opening documentary. Whatever takes your fancy, you’ll need a TV licence to enjoy the hundreds of great TV shows.

Regardless of the device – whether it’s the ol’ tele box, a computer, tablet or your phone – a TV licence is the only way to watch Tv shows in the UK legally. But who is responsible for a TV licence if you’re renting, yourself or the landlord? In our latest guide, we're bringing you everything you need to know about having a TV licence when renting.

Do you need a TV licence as a renter?

A TV licence isn’t mandatory, but if you don’t have one, we're afraid it means no television for you. Once upon a time, you only needed a licence if you consumed content on an actual TV. With the rise of streaming, however, a TV licence is now required regardless of the device you use.

Smart TV apps

The law states that you need a TV licence to

  • watch or record programmes as they are being shown on TV, on any channel
  • watch or stream programmes live on an online TV service (such as ITV Hub, All 4, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, Now TV, Sky Go, etc.)
  • download or watch any BBC programmes on iPlayer.

If you’re renting a home, then it’s likely that you’ll need a TV licence to watch television. There may be occasions where the landlord includes the licence in the monthly rental figure, and this will be stipulated in the tenancy agreement. However, it’s far more common for renters to pay for a TV licence separately.

What role does a tenancy agreement play?

Sometimes landlords include things like utility bills, council tax and the TV licence in the monthly rental price. When looking for a new home, keep an eye for benefits like bills and TV licences included in the rent, as these are considered perks and will be advertised in the property listing. Otherwise, you will be responsible for getting a TV licence, no matter the type of tenancy.

Even if you rent a room with a separate agreement for your space, you will still need your own licence if you watch TV in there. However, if there’s a joint TV licence in a house share, it may be enough to cover the whole household, unless you have your own toilet or washing facilities. Check out the TV licensing website for the latest information on TV licences and different tenancies.

How much does a TV licence cost?

Cinema room in a house

The standard price for a TV licence is £157.50, and you can choose to pay in one upfront cost or with regular instalments. You may also be eligible for a discount if you fall into one of these categories:

  • 74 or older and receive pension credit
  • Blind or have severely impaired vision
  • Live in a residential care home or sheltered accommodation
  • Live in a hotel, hostel or campsite.

When don’t you need a TV licence?

Again, if your landlord includes the TV licence in the rent, then you won’t need to get a separate one. The only other way to avoid paying for a TV licence is by not watching it. So if books are more your thing you can save yourself £150-plus each year. But remember: the minute you watch any form of television, smart TV or download BBC programmes on iPlayer, you will be eligible for a licence.

And if you think you can get away with watching TV without paying for a licence, it's worth noting that the fines include paying up to £1,000. Not having a TV licence is considered a criminal offence, and you can expect your first warning letter shortly after you watch TV without one.

Don't miss your favourite shows

Most people watch TV in some capacity, and if you’re renting a home, it’s worth knowing whether or not you need a licence. Doing so can be the difference between paying up to £1,000 in fines and enjoying the latest episode of Eastenders without a worry in the world.

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