TV Licensing Letters, What Do They Mean?
The BBC has spent more than £6million on warning letters sent out to homes across the UK. These include empty and unoccupied homes as well as homes and businesses that are without valid TV licence. Each of these 28+ million letters sent cost the UK taxpayer 22p each and many of these letters go unanswered.
With an enormous database, detector vans and enquiry team more and more people are getting fined and some have even been imprisoned because they have not purchased a TV licence. These are of course last resort options and you will be sent several warning letters of varying severity.
It is important to remember that you have a legal responsibility as a tenant/home owner to ensure your property is covered by a valid TV licence, failure to do this may result in a fine of up to £1000 or even prison.
When do TV Licensing send letters?
TV Licensing has a duty to ensure every address that has TV watching equipment installed or has the capability to watch, stream or record live TV or has the use of iPlayer has a valid TV licence and that people who are evading detection are caught and punished accordingly.
Different letters are sent depending on the different circumstances and needs of addresses. The letters sent are intended to cover a range of possibilities. For example, some people without a Licence may have simply forgotten to buy it; others donít require a Licence, or may require a Licence but deliberately evade paying for it. The tone of the letters progressively becomes stronger if no response is received from an address, to encourage a reply.
Depending on what stage an address is at you may receive one or more of the following:
• Reminder letters to addresses with TV Licences that are about to expire
• Letters to unlicensed premises, emphasising the legal requirement to be correctly licensed if watching or recording television
programmes as they are being shown on TV
• Letters to individuals who are on Cash Payment or Direct Debit Plans
• Letters to individuals who are enquiring about a refund on their TV Licence
• Letters to individuals who have informed TV Licensing that they have no need of a TV Licence
• Ad-hoc letters in relation to individual queries.
I have had a warning letter but I have a TV licence, what do I do?
If you have received a letter from TV Licensing and you have a valid TV licence you need to contact TV Licensing on 0300 790 6165 as soon as possible to ensure they update their system. If you think you are covered by a valid TV licence you can double check on the tv licensing website, login to your online account and view you TV licence and this will show when it is due to expire or if it has already expired.
If you find that your TV licence has in fact expired or it is due for renewal you can purchase or renew your licence online. Please ensure that you contact TV Licensing as soon as you receive any correspondence, this will avoid any further letters being sent as well as any further action being taken.
I received a letter, but itís addressed to "The Present Occupier" what do I do?
Millions of letters are sent out every year and most of these are to empty properties or properties that have had new tenants recently moved in. These letters will often be addressed "The Present Occupier" as the tenant or owners name is often unknown.
If you have recently moved into a property and receive a letter like this, it is important to respond to the letter as soon as possible. You have already completed a change of address online within 7 days of receiving the letter you can ignore it, as these are often sent by 2nd class post and can take time to arrive at your property after an address change has been made. If you have already changed your address more than 7 days prior to the letter it is best to call: 0300 790 6130 to confirm the change has gone through correctly.
If you require a new licence please ensure this is purchased as soon as you start watching, recording or streaming live TV or start using iPlayer in your new property.
I donít need a TV licence, why am I getting letters?
There are few reasons they you may not need to purchase a TV licence, but it is important to remember that you still need to inform TV licensing of your circumstances. If you do not contact TV Licensing they will continue to send you warning letters and possibly send enquiry officers to your address.
No licence needed
If you do not require a licence because you do not watch, record or stream live TV or you do not use iPlayer on any device including a TV, tablet, iPad, PC, laptop or a mobile phone then you do not need to purchase a TV licence. But, you do need to contact TV Licensing and you need complete a no licence form. This is quick and easy to do and will ensure that no more letters are sent to your address.
TV Licensing may still send an enforcement officer to your property to verify that you do not have TV viewing equipment installed and that you are not using the services named above.
Over 75 licence
If you are 75 or over you are entitled to a free TV licence, you can apply online after your 75th birthday, it will cover you as well as anyone you live with.
You do not automatically get an over 75 TV Licence on your 75th birthday, you will have to apply for one. Do not cancel your paid for licence, when TV Licensing have received your free licence application they will cancel your paid for TV licence and refund you any monies you may have over paid.
Do I need a TV licence?
You need to have a valid TV licence if you:
• Watch, record or stream live TV programmes on any channel
• Download, watch or stream any BBC programmes on iPlayer, Live, Catch up or On Demand.
It doesn't matter what device you use either. If you watch, record or stream live TV programmes on any channel, or download or watch BBC programmes on iPlayer, you need to be covered by a TV Licence.
TV sets (including smart TVs) DVD, Blu-ray and VHS recorders Laptops and desktop computers Tablets, mobile phones and other portable devices Digital boxes or PVRs (such as Sky, Virgin Media or BT TV) Games consoles Media streaming devices (such as Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku and Now TV) Freeview, Freesat or YouView.
What will happen if I ignore the warning letters?
We strongly recommend that you respond to any letter from TV Licensing as soon as possible to avoid any further action being taken. But, if you choose to ignore the first warning letter you will then receive a second warning letter, urging you to make contact.
After the second warning letter TV Licensing may then place you under investigation. TV Licensing may use several investigatory techniques to establish whether or not you are using TV receiving equipment. The next step would be an enforcement officer visiting your property to establish in person your circumstances.
If it is has been proven that you have in fact been using TV services without a valid licence you may be liable for a fine of up to £1000. If after the fine you still fail to purchase a valid TV licence you will then be taken to court and potentially prosecuted.
Will I receive a reminder that my TV licence is about to expire?
TV Licensing send out almost 7,500 letters each day to customers to remind them that their TV licence is about to expire. This is to ensure all customers have adequate time to purchase a new licence before their current one runs out.
You need to renew your TV licence at least a month before your current licence is due to expire. You will not be charged twice during this over lapping period your new licence will simply start as your old one finishes.
I have just moved and there are lots of letters from TV Licensing, what do I do?
If you have recently moved into a new property and there are letters from TV Licensing regarding the licence status of your new property you must contact them immediately so they can update their system.
If you have already completed a change of address online within the last 7 days you do not need to contact TV Licensing as these are probably old letters sent out prior to your change of address.
If you continue to receive letters after you have changed address please contact TV Licensing on: 0300 790 6130 to ensure they have updated this correctly.
Nobody like receiving threatening letters and with so many letters being sent out every year from TV Licensing some of them are inevitably going to sent in error and cause distress to some people.
To make sure this doesnít happen to you, check that you have a valid TV licence and remember to take note of your customer number and expiry date. If you need to purchase a licence or need to change your address you can do this online.
This section of the website includes many informative articles and guides for TV Licences, when you need one, how to update your details and if you have received correspondence from TV Licensing and want to find out more.
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