Sheffield student accommodation – do you need a TV licence?

Often a cause for controversial discussion on whether it provides value for money? We're here to answer the question. Living in Sheffield student accommodation - do you need a TV licence?

Often a cause for controversial discussion on whether it provides value for money. In the modern world of on-demand streaming means many people don’t think they need one as they only watch catch up services. Although this is correct in some cases, proving otherwise that you don’t need one can be difficult. So we are here to answer the question. Living in Sheffield student accommodation – do you need a TV licence?

History of TV licence.

The TV licence has been required in the UK since 1947, not as some assume to enable ownership of a television. But as a way to fund the BBC (British broadcasting corporation) Raising income this way meant that the services they provide are independent instead of being based on the revenue they could earn through advertisements. The BBC subsequently can supply programming which would be beneficial to the public as opposed to only providing services that are profitable. Currently, the law was amended in 2016 and a tv licence is now required to watch or record any broadcasts at the time of transmission, live broadcasts on delay (this includes +1 channels), and any content played through the BBC Iplayer app or website.

Do you need a TV licence?

Currently the criteria for when you actually need one boils down to if you do either of the following.

  • Watch or record live tv as it’s transmitted (including using +1 channels) on any device.
  • You view something on BBC Iplayer on any device.

When you don’t

  • Technically you don’t need one when you watch anything else that is streamed such as Netflix or other on-demand internet services.
  • On-demand internet services that are not BBC Iplayer for example ITV Hub, my5, All4. Providing you are not watching or recording the live channel broadcast streams.
  • If you only watch pre-recorded media like DVD’s

The grey area of student TV licencing

The TV licencing website states that you don’t need one as a student IF:

Your ‘out-of-term address’ (your parents’ address) is covered by a TV Licence. AND you only use TV-receiving equipment that is powered solely by its own internal batteries. AND you have not connected it to an aerial or plugged it into the mains.

The reality is though that fitting all these criteria is incredibly difficult. Chances are that if you have a mobile device like a phone tablet or laptop. You may be able to cover it providing you don’t charge the devices. If you have a TV, Desktop or Games Console. Then you won’t be covered.

How do they check if you need one?

It was always a bit of an urban legend (although never fully confirmed either way) that the TV licensing authority use to travel around in white vans. In these vehicles, it was claimed that they contained specialist tv detection equipment. In reality, licences are matched up to a postcode database and if you haven’t paid for one. You will begin to receive a stream of letters, telling you that you will require one. Ignoring these can mean that personal checks will begin to happen with inspectors starting to visit to see if you have aerials or satellites dishes installed. They will then proceed to use detection equipment to see if broadcast signals are being received. In some enforcement cases, they can apply to the courts for a warrant to enter and search your home to check devices to look for signs that you are illegally watching live broadcasts.

Fines can be costly and you can end up with more than financial penalties.

If you’ve seen the adverts, you will know that you could face a fine of up to £1000. In 2013 there were 175’000 prosecutions taken to court with over 86% of successful prosecutions. Although the average fine was nowhere near the maximum. The average cost will include extras such as court costs. Being prosecuted for not having a licence doesn’t just come with financial penalties, you could receive a criminal record on top.

Can you easily prove you don’t need a tv licence for your student property?

In most certainly all cases proving you don’t is close to impossible. Although the onus is on the inspectors to prove you do need one. Having the device and facilities to view broadcasts can be a basis for proving you do need a licence.

Even if you have apps installed on some devices can you say for certain that you haven’t accidentally clicked on them? Viewing a live stream even by accident for only a few seconds would not be covered by not having a TV licence.

If you have BBC Iplayer or another app on a mobile device like a laptop or tablet. Technically you don’t need a licence as long as the device isn’t plugged in. But could you say for certain that you haven’t put it on charge whilst viewing?

Another example is in a shared property. As only one licence is required for a shared property can you be sure that others are not watching something without a tv licence in place? Although it may be the actions of others. You would be jointly responsible for any legal issues that arise from their actions.

Getting one anyway

It’s worthwhile to save the hassle of threatening letters, visits by inspectors and potential prosecution for not getting the licence. At the current cost of £159 a year, payable monthly can make this manageable. If you live in a shared property splitting this between everyone in the house can reduce the price further and protect everybody from breaking the law. Whether you watch TV or not, it’s better to be covered than face the potential consequences.

Having a licence will also cover you when you are away from the property.

Being a student means that you may be entitled to a partial refund to cover the summer months. You will need to check with the TV licensing authority whether you qualify.

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About Thornsett Properties

Thornsett Properties have been providing student accommodation in Sheffield since 1985. We supply accommodation to over 650 undergraduates and postgraduate students studying at Sheffield University and Sheffield Hallam University every year. Designed to fit with your budget whilst looking for student accommodation. Thornsett Properties are property owners and not agents, meaning all our properties are managed by ourselves and not reliant on third parties. Our aim is to help you succeed when looking for student accommodation in Sheffield.

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