Every so often people approach us on the issue of whether or not they need a TV licence for an unoccupied property.
Regular readers will be very familiar with the relevant legislation, but for the benefit of any newcomers: A TV licence is required for any property where equipment is installed or used to receive TV programme services. A TV programme service means any TV programme, broadcast on any TV channel, which is available to other members of the public at the same time or virtually the same time.
If a property is unoccupied then there is no-one there to receive TV programme services, so consequently no TV licence is required.
TV Licensing will invariably enquire about the licensable status of any unoccupied property. The person responsible for the property is under no legal obligation to provide TV Licensing with any information or assistance, but may voluntarily choose to do so. Experience tells us that communicating with TV Licensing is often a waste of time, so we strongly discourage it.
Remember also that TV Licensing do not have the automatic right to access any property to confirm its licensable status.
Technically speaking, a TV licence would be required for the unoccupied property if anyone, for whatever reason, decided to receive TV programmes on installed (e.g. plugged in) equipment there - for example, a person doing DIY who decided to watch TV programmes during their coffee break on a normal TV set.
Of course, the TV licence of a person's primary residence will cover their reception of TV programmes in any other place, as long as they are using a device powered by its own internal battery and without an external aerial. This means that if the person doing DIY, mentioned in the earlier example, wanted to watch a bit of telly on their unplugged iPad (or whatever), then they would be covered by virtue of the TV licence of their primary residence.
As you have probably gathered, the legislation is slightly archaic, confusing and not fit for purpose. You can find much more information in our free ebook, TV Licensing Laid Bare.
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