TV Licensing - Who is Liable?

When is a TV Licence required?

A television licence is required to watch any television programme "as they are being shown". Therefore a licence is not required if a computer is being used solely for watching pre-recorded television programmes such as programmes on i-player, youtube etc.

Is the landlord liable if a landlord provides a TV in a let property?

No, the person who uses or intends to use the apparatus to watch a programme as it is being shown requires a licence. 

As the landlord does not intend to use the apparatus to watch programmes, the landlord is not liable. 

However, you should note that it is essential to have a term in the tenancy agreement that the tenant will obtain and pay for a TV licence because it is an offence under section 363 Communications Act 2003 to "install" a TV that is to be used without a licence. 

If the tenant argued they thought the landlord was supplying a licence without proof to the contrary, an offence could be committed under this section.

On a joint tenancy, is one licence needed for the whole premises or one per person?

Where the whole property is let as one on a joint tenancy, typically, only one licence for the entire property will be required.

If rooms are let separately, does each tenant require their licence?


Does each flat require a licence if a property is let as self-contained?

Yes, each flat is treated as a separate dwelling so each tenant will require a licence.

Are students exempt from requiring a TV licence?

No, just like everyone else, students must be covered by a TV Licence to watch or record television programmes as they're being shown on TV. 

This applies whether they live in halls of residence or a private shared house.

If I have a lodger, does the lodger require a licence, or can the TV be used on my licence?

A further licence is not required if the lodger is a family member, partner au-pair or similar. 

However, if the lodger is unrelated, they will require one for their room.

Where can I obtain further information?

Further information is available here.

View Related Handbook Page


The general starting position as to liability for paying utilities, including the electricity, gas, water, telephone and internet, is that the occupier or consumer is liable.