Bill dodgers make worst flatmates say UK students

Over a third (35 per cent) of UK students in shared accommodation have had a house argument over payment of bills, and almost half of students (49 per cent) say bill dodgers make the worst flatmates, according to research released today by TV Licensing.

Four out of ten students have lived with people who regularly need to be chased for their share of bills, and 41 per cent also admit they have ended up paying more than their share to make up for bill-dodging housemates. The research, carried out among 1,000 students living in shared accommodation, highlights the difficulties students can face in managing not only their own finances, but also payments shared with their housemates.

As the new academic year begins, TV Licensing is urging students who have just moved into shared accommodation to take responsibility for bill payment, and avoid causing household conflict and possible fines from late payments.

With the majority of students planning to use either a TV (81 per cent) or a PC/laptop (69 per cent) to watch TV at university this year, TV Licensing has set up a website - - which provides students with the facts about licensing requirements as well as a handy reminder service to ensure they buy a licence on time. Students moving into new accommodation can also update their address details via the main TV Licensing website to ensure they are correctly licensed at the start of term.

Lawrence Gold, money advisor on BBC's Bank of Mum and Dad said: "We know that living in shared accommodation can come with its problems, but money management needn't be one of them. No ones likes asking others for money, but when it comes to bill payments, it's only fair for students to share the responsibility and make sure everyone pays their way. Budgeting is very much common sense - if you have any problems regarding money and budgeting there are places to get help and advice - please don't bury your head in the sand! The habits that you develop as a student remain with you for life therefore it's vital for those heading to university to get money wise."

Victoria Smith, TV Licensing spokesperson said "We want to make it as easy as possible for students to get on top of their finances, and not be faced with an unwelcome fine for not making payments such as their TV Licence on time. That is why we have set up a website especially for students - - to provide all the facts as well as an email reminder service, to ensure students don’t overlook the licensing requirements in the excitement of the new term."

The research also found that:


  • Nearly half (49 per cent) of students admitted that they have lent money to people who haven't paid them back, while 45 per cent have been irritated by friends who never seem to buy a round of drinks.
  • Over 40 per cent (42 per cent) of students admitted that the usual reason for late payments is that they simply forget, or because they simply can't afford it.


Lawrence Gold's Golden Rules

  • Make sure that responsibility for bill payment is shared - everyone should assign an amount to cover the utility bills at the beginning of each term and place this in a household bank account
  • You could draw up a rota identifying when bill payment is due and stick it to the fridge - no excuses for forgetting!
  • Set up a household bank account and arrange for monthly payments to be made automatically - this way you can't accidentally spend the money at the pub!
  • Try to encourage everyone to sign up for direct debit - a regular payment - it would be no more than a couple of pints at the union and would help you regulate your finances
  • Make sure that when you move into your property you register your details with all the household service providers, including TV Licensing. You can register your new details online or by calling 0844 800 6734

A TV Licence currently costs £139.50. Students with any questions about TV Licensing requirements or applying for a refund should visit or call 0844 800 6734.


For further information please contact the TV Licensing press office on 020 7544 3144

Notes to editors

The research was carried out by Opinionpanel Research in August 2008. A representative sample of 1,000 UK students living in shared accommodation were questioned.

TV Licensing, students and the law

When does a student need a TV Licence?

Students need a TV Licence to watch or record TV programmes, irrespective of what channel they're watching, what device they are using (TV, computer, laptop, mobile phone or any other), and how they receive them (terrestrial, satellite, cable, via the Internet or any other way). If they don’t have a licence they risk prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000.

In some cases students and flatmates will each require their own separate licence for the TVs in their rooms, and in others one licence may be sufficient for all flatmates, regardless of the number of devices in the property. This will depend on the number of licensable places in the property. The tenancy agreement on the property is often a good indication of this. For example:

  • If a student lives in halls of residence and uses a TV in their own room, they need their own separate TV Licence.
  • They also need their own licence if they are sharing a house with other students and use a TV in their room, and their room is a separately licensable place (a separate tenancy agreement would normally indicate that this is the case).
  • If a student has a separate tenancy agreement but a television is only being used in a communal area, then only one licence is required.
  • If a student is sharing a house with other students and uses a TV in their room, but the house can be treated as one licensable place shared by all, then only one TV Licence is required (a joint tenancy agreement would usually be evidence that the house is a single licensable place for this purpose).

When is a student covered by their parents' TV Licence?

A student will only be covered by their parents' TV Licence in their student accommodation in the following limited circumstances:

  • They only use TV receiving equipment which is powered by its internal batteries
  • They haven't installed the TV receiving equipment, for example, they haven't connected the TV receiving equipment to an aerial or plugged it into the mains supply
  • Their permanent place of residence is their parents' house
  • Their parents have a valid TV Licence for their house.

If they do not satisfy each of these requirements and they are watching or recording TV programmes as they are being shown on TV, they will need to obtain their own TV Licence for their student accommodation.

Costs and refunds

On 1 April 2008, a colour TV Licence cost £139.50.

If a student is not staying at university over the summer, and does not need their TV Licence again before it expires, they are entitled to a refund of any unused quarters (three full calendar months). So long as they purchased their TV Licence in October and don't need it for July, August and September, they could be eligible for a refund.

The refund on a TV Licence bought before April 2008 will be £33.88.

TV Licensing wants to make it as easy as possible for people to pay for their TV Licence. To find out about the many ways to pay, including over-the-counter services via PayPoint, and the ease of Direct Debit, visit or call 0844 800 6734.

General information about TV Licensing is available in other languages: