Landlords and TV licensing: TV licences in rental property

The TV licence is a vital part of our day-to-day entertainment. Unfortunately, timeless modern opuses such as Snog, Marry, Avoid? don’t just fund themselves; the creators need money to continue to generate slice after slice of televisual gold. Enter the TV licence.

Many of us know that you only need a TV licence if you use a device such as a television or computer to watch or record television programmes as they are being broadcast. If you don’t use a device for this, you don’t have to have a licence. The BBC has confirmed that, even if you own a television, you needn’t be licensed if you only use it to, say, listen to digital radio or watch DVDs.

TV licences in rental properties

The rules for rental property are much the same – yours will need to be licensed if your tenants use any devices to watch or record live TV. It will generally be the tenants’ responsibility to pay for it unless you provided the means for them to watch TV (such as if you installed the television aerial). If this is the case, you’ll need to purchase the TV licence, unless the tenancy agreement specifies that your tenants need to.

It’s important you make sure your tenants know for sure whether or not they’ll need a licence and that you won’t incur the costs of any fines for not having one (which can be around £1,000). Make sure the tenancy agreement states that your tenants can’t watch any broadcast television without a licence. It wouldn’t hurt to include the information in this blog and contact details for TV Licensing in their tenancy pack, either.

TV licences in HMOs (Houses in Multiple Occupation)

If you let to individual tenants in a house share, each tenant who watches or records live TV in their room needs a separate licence.

If your sharer tenants are part of a joint contract, one licence will likely cover the whole house – however, a tenant who has exclusive access to some facilities (in effect, living in a self-contained part of the property) might need a separate TV licence. If in doubt, check with the chaps at TV Licensing.

(Do students need a TV licence?)

Unlike council tax, students don’t get a TV licence exemption; if you let to students, the normal rules apply. However, if one of your student tenants watches TV on a device that is internally powered and not plugged in to an aerial or the mains, they’ll be covered by the TV licence at their out-of-term address (if it has one).

Lodgers and TV licences

If your lodger is someone who has a relationship with you (for instance, an au pair, housekeeper, nanny, family member or common law partner) and shares your property and facilities with you, they’ll be covered by your TV licence.

Lodgers with no relationship to you, and lodgers who do have a relationship but who live in a self-contained floor or annex or a separate building, need their own TV licence if they watch or record TV.

How do I get a TV licence?

The cost for a TV licence is £145.50 for a colour television or £49.90 for a black and white one. If you or your tenants need a TV licence, get in touch with TV Licensing and let them know.

This information should not be interpreted as financial advice. Buy to let mortgage rates are subject to change. Speak to our advisors for a mortgage illustration.