TV Licensing - What are the Rules for Students?

For so many of us, watching the television has become a permanent fixture. Arguably one of the most significant inventions of the last century, it is now second nature for the TV to be on for hours every day.

After a full-on day of lectures, kicking back and taking in one of your favourite shows is one of a number of ways to unwind, either by yourself or in the company of friends.

This familiar pastime is literally part of the furniture, so it is easy to take it for granted. That’s why it is worth noting that TV licensing laws still apply to students.

Some of our Homes for Students accommodation properties have TV Licences included within the rental agreements.

Please check the Ts & Cs for each property carefully when booking your room. If the property does not provide a license for the TV in a communal area or bedroom, you will be required to purchase a TV License should you wish to watch TV live, online or recorded.  

When you are settling into your new surroundings and embarking on such an exciting adventure, the last thing you need is the worry of potentially facing criminal action – a nightmare scenario that can be avoided by simply brushing up on the facts.

TV Licences for Students

Students must have a licence in order to watch or record shows as they’re being broadcast on TV or live on an online TV service, like YouTube or Sky Go. Watching or downloading BBC programmes on iPlayer also requires a licence, even if it is done on other devices like a phone, tablet, computer or console.

Keep in mind that a student accommodation communal license doesn’t cover your own room. If you have a separate tenancy agreement for your room, you’ll require your own TV License. If you have a joint tenancy agreement for a flat or house, you are likely to require one licence to cover the property.

What is the cost?

There is an annual fee of £147 for a TV license. People are given the choice of paying in one lump sum or spacing it out with weekly, monthly or quarterly payments.

If you don’t need the licence for all 12 months, you have the chance to apply for a refund.

What if I’m already covered?

There are some instances where you will already be covered by a TV licence and therefore won’t need to pay for a new one.

You may be covered by your parents’ licence IF all the following statements are correct:

  • Your out-of-term address (parents’ address) is covered by a TV License
  • You only use television receiving equipment powered by internal batteries
  • You have not connected it to an aerial or plugged it into the mains

If you are certain that, based on the above, you don’t need a TV licence, you still need to inform the TV Licensing authority by visiting

What is the risk of doing nothing?

If the TV Licensing authority discovers that someone without a license has been watching or recording live shows on any channel or device, or downloading or watching BBC iPlayer programmes, they can start prosecution proceedings.

The maximum penalty is £1,000 (outside of Guernsey, where it is £2,000), and there could be even more to pay in the way of compensation and/or legal costs.

It’s just not worth the risk! Clarify your position as soon as you arrive in your new accommodation, and then spend the rest of your time there relaxing in front of your favourite shows.

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