In today's post we respond to an email received from one of our readers.
Natasha has previously sought advice from the TV Licensing Blog, but recently got in touch after receiving yet another TV Licensing threatogram.
Our reader writes:
Hope you're well. Thanks again for your kind advice.
I've since received around 3 or 4 letters from the TV Licencing people and have chosen to ignore them. The last letter came yesterday and I'm a bit undecided on what to do next.
I've read on the internet that even if they do not know your name (in my case, they don't know it indeed and all the letters have simply been addressed to "The Resident"), they can still get the name via the council tax register and take me to court even if they haven't been inside the property.
1. Is that true?
2. If a TV Licencing officer turns up on my doorstep and I simply not let them in, could this instigate them to take me to court? Or come back with a search warrant?
3. Although I honestly do not watch live TV or watch any live content on any mobile devices, I've still got a TV (unplugged and put away) and an iPad in my flat. If I chose to let them into my property, would them seeing my iPad or catching a glimpse of the unplugged television still be enough of an evidence against me and could this be enough for them to take me to court?
Thanks again for your help.
TV Licensing Blog replies:
Hello Natasha and thanks for getting back in touch.
You honestly should not be overly concerned by TV Licensing's threats. It really is a fishing exercise designed to scare people into buying a TV licence, whether they need one or not. You genuinely don't need a TV licence, so don't give TV Licensing a second thought - ignore them totally.
In response to your questions:
1. TV Licensing, just like anyone else, could view the electoral register to determine who is registered to vote at a particular property. However, the BBC has previous confirmed to me that TV Licensing does not use the electoral register for that purpose. In order to take you to court they would need credible evidence that you are evading the licence fee. They can never get that evidence in your case, as it does not exist.
2. You are under no legal obligation to allow TV Licensing entry to your home to prove your innocence. You definitely should not allow them in voluntarily. Simply saying "no, you are not coming in" is not sufficient grounds for them to obtain a warrant. Warrants are exceptionally rare - they are usually reserved for what TV Licensing perceives as "awkward customers" (e.g. those that respond aggressively when TV Licensing calls at their home). Please read our post on search warrants for more information.
3. No. Mere possession of a TV set or iPad does not require a TV licence. It is the act of installing those devices and receiving programmes that is licensable. You honestly should not be concerned, as you do not legally need a TV licence.
It is only fair of me to mention that some TV Licensing goons do tell lies about the circumstances of the people they visit. For that reason it is safer to ignore TV Licensing completely and trust none of their people.
If you have any questions you would like answered on the TV Licensing Blog, please email us with the words "Reader Letter" in the subject line. Our email address is in the sidebar. As mentioned on the About page, we can't guarantee to respond to every email but will try our best.