A Guide to TV Licensing in a Shared House

Written by Ellen Holcombe

A Guide to TV Licensing in a Shared House

TV licensing is probably something you’ve never had to think about before. It’s not like broadband where if you don’t sort it you can’t access the internet. You can still watch TV without a licence, but trust us, you really shouldn’t. You could end up with a £1,000 fine. Ouch.

Rather than leave you to figure it out on your own, we’ve pulled together a guide for TV licensing first-timers to make things a little easier and a whole lot less stressful for you.

What is a TV licence?

A TV licence is basically legal permission to be able to watch TV. You used to only need a licence to watch live TV, but the law has recently changed to cover watching and recording TV as well as downloading and watching catch up services like BBC iPlayer. TV licences last 12 months from date of payment and cost £147 per year.

Do you actually need a TV licence?

It doesn’t matter what device you use (TV, desktop, laptop, tablet, or phone) - you need to pay for a TV licence if you:

  • Watch or record programmes as they’re being broadcast
  • Watch programmes live on an online TV service
  • Watch or download TV programmes on BBC catch up services like iPlayer
You don’t need a TV licence if you:
  • Only watch non-BBC catch up and streaming services like All 4 and Netflix
  • Don’t watch TV at all
Per household or per person?

Normally, a TV licence covers an entire property. Unfortunately for students, it’s a little more complicated than that. Let me break it down for you:

I live in university halls.
Because in halls you’re all on separate tenancy agreements, you can’t split the cost of a licence between your flat, and gone are the days when you’re covered on your parents’ TV licence. If you ever watch TV (on any device) in your own room, you’re going to need your own licence.

I live in a shared house.
If you live in a shared house with a joint tenancy agreement, you can split the cost of one TV licence between you. Happy days!

Monthly or yearly? That is the question.

You can choose to either split the cost of your TV licence and pay monthly or pay for the lot in one go. Because it doesn’t cost you any more to pay monthly, we’d suggest you do that. If you live in a house with 3 other people, it’ll only cost you 69p each a week. It’s a no-brainer.

A quick money saving tip…

If your tenancy ends before your 12 month TV licence expires, you can apply for a refund for each full month you have left through the TV Licensing authority directly. Let’s say you move in in October, buy a 12 month licence then move out the following June. You can then request a refund for June, July and August. Ka-ching!

How to get started.

You could go about setting up your TV licence on your own, but sorting it through Split The Bills is super easy. Plus, you can sort all your other bills at the same time.

Get started with Split The Bills and we’ll split the cost of your TV licence (and all your other bills) between you and your housemates each month. We’ll take the hassle out of shared student bills.

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