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Monday, 16 March 2009

Practical Pest Control #37 - TV Licensing Enforcement Officer

As with all our articles on pest control, we start with a little biology. Contrary to statements on some websites, TV Licensing Enforcement Officers are not in fact reptiles. Surprisingly, they are actually mammals quite closely related to man!
The exact date of the introduction of this pest into the UK is unknown but it was probably after World War II. Like another recently arrived pest, Mink (Neovison vison) they were originally introduced for a practical reason.
In the case of Mink this was for fur farms but the animals escaped and kill many small wild and domestic creatures.
TV Licensing Enforcement Officer is used to hunt down people who use a TV without paying the licence fee. Unfortunately, they also harass people who don't have a TV.
Normal pest control methods such as trapping or shooting are not legal for TV Licensing Enforcement Officer. For many years there seemed to be no way of dealing with infestations but I've recently discovered a promising new method - and I'm going to share it with you free of charge.

Here's a little about their habits:

  • Any address without a license is sent an intimidating letter demanding that a licence is bought on pain of prosecution and a £1000 fine.

  • Novices who don't have a TV believe that all they need do is explain the situation and that will be the end of the matter.

  • They couldn't be more wrong. TV Licensing Enforcement Officer replies that since over a third of the people who claim not to need a licence are lying, they intend to come and search your house!

  • They do actually turn up sometimes. You don't have to let them in or even talk to them. (Unless they have a Search Warrant which is unusual)

  • The whole dreary cycle repeats. In my case, it's been going on for 30 years.

  • I was clear in my mind that I wanted to achieve:
  • Stop the visits
  • Stop the letters
  • Now, under common law, anyone has the right to walk up to your front door and knock unless you've told them not to. Legally, this is called withdrawing the implied right of access to your property - and it goes in the letter you send to their nest. That should stop the visits.
    Next, you are not obliged to answer their threatening letters. So, you tell them you are introducing charges for dealing with them!
    So here's the letter:

    The British Broadcasting Corporation
    Broadcasting House
    Portland Place
    W1A 1AA


    Dear Sirs
    As you know, there has been no TV licence at this address for over 29 years. You also know that is because I don't have a TV. During the last 29 years, you have repeatedly harassed me with your letters, threats and enquiry officers.

    1. I withdraw from the BBC, TV Licensing, your employees, agents and other associates the implied right of access to my property at (address)

    2. You may acknowledge this letter.

    3. You will not attempt to contact me or anyone at this address further except as set out below:

    Fees that apply should you wish to continue contact with me:

    3.1.1 Receiving communications from you by any media, £25 per occasion. I reserve the right to decide whether or not to respond to your communications.

    3.1.2 Receiving visits in connection with TV Licenses, £50 per occasion, which must be sent at least 7 days before the visit. I will then telephone you to arrange a convenient time.

    3.1.3 If you attempt a visit outside the terms of section 3.1.2 above, the fee rises to £75 payable in cash on the doorstep. Should your representative fail to pay the £75, not only will they not be admitted, you will be liable to a further invoicing charge of £25 making a total of £100.

    I am entitled to use force to remove trespassers on my land.

    I reserve the right to record any of your activities.

    No communication from you purporting to vary any of the above has any validity unless explicitly agreed by me in writing.

    If you are concerned that I'm an evader, use detection equipment from the street. Just leave me alone!

    This should result in them writing back to you

    Dear X
    Thank you for you recent letter….
    I am sorry…not our intention to harass….
    Having received your letter, I have noted your effective withdrawal of the common law right for a TV Licensing Officer to approach your property. Your instructions will of course be adhered to….
    …our standard renewal notices and unlicensed mailings have been stopped…
    Thank you again for writing to us…..

    1. My thanks to Ian K for suggesting the use of green ink.
    2. Point 2 in my letter is vital. You need their acknowledgement of seeing your letter
    3. Of course, they might not actually leave me alone but it will cost them money and embarrassment
    4. I'm not a lawyer. Do not rely on this as legal advice
    Lots more information on this fascinating pest animal


    Anonymous said...

    Unfortunately you may find that your respite will only be temporary, and that every so often you will need to repeat the process (since they may decide to start writing to you as "The Occupier" on the grounds that you might have moved).

    Unfortunately this seems to be the best you can hope to achieve, but as you point out you're under no obligation to respond to any of their letters or visits in any way shape or form!

    Steve said...

    Certainly what you say about their persistence applies to many gambits. Even referring to my MP didn't stop them.
    However they now know that if they "contact me or anyone at this address further" they incur a fee. This might stop them and if it doesn't I can sue/harass them for the money. Boot on the other foot :-)

    Erik Oostveen said...

    Fight the outdated TV License. Visit