When you're being affected by day-time noise
Summary: This page covers day-time noise at an address. If the noise is part of a recent pattern of disturbance from the same address, also read the Frequent Disturbance page.
Daytime noise can be a problem in warm weather as students at houses with gardens take advantage of sunny conditions. If this involves playing loud music all afternoon, or loud voices, or shouting, it can be intolerable for neighbours. University of Bristol's rules say students shouldn’t annoy neighbours at any time (link). The University of the West of England has similar policies. If the noise happens during office hours, you may be able to get help from the university, the landlord/agent, or the neighbourhood police. Bristol City Council is unlikely to assist. In the evenings, only the police can respond. If it’s getting late, go to the Night-time Noise page and/or check if Operation Beech is available. For details about the options, read on:
Step 1: What’s happening?
Gather some basic information:
Date, time, what can you see and hear?
What’s disturbing you: music, shouting, unruly behaviour in street?
Are they students? From which university?
Is it a party, or just the household members being raucous?
How loud is it? (Can you hear it 20, 50, 100 yards away?)
How many people are present?
Is the event contained inside a house, or are people also making noise outside in the street, garden or forecourt?
Are there people in the street shouting, fighting, urinating or damaging property?
(If there is serious disorder and you or others feel threatened, ring the police on 999. Stay inside and skip Steps 2 and 3.)
Step 2: Go and Complain
Assuming the serious concerns underlined above don’t apply, it may help to talk to the students directly, provided you feel safe to do so. If you can’t do this, skip to Step 4.
Team up with a neighbour if you can. At the address, ask to speak to an organiser or tenant (not just the first student you meet):
Stay calm and avoid inflammatory comments.
Explain the effect the event is having on you.
Ask which university they are with (if they decline to answer, don’t worry).
Explain the University of Bristol rules on noise, as in this document; rules for UWE are broadly similar.
Make some requests, depending on the situation. Ask them to:
Turn the music off, or down, or commit to finish at a certain time
Ask people to lower their voices and avoid bad language
Say you will send a complaint to the university, and the extent to which they meet your requests will influence what you say. Tell them what kinds of penalties they might face, as in the document above.
Step 3: Contact university
If this is a weekday event during office hours, it may be worth asking the relevant university to contact the students and exercise its influence.
University of Bristol
Community Liaison Manager (number to be updated)
University of the West of England
Community Liaison Manager (number to be updated)
Step 4: Contact landlord
During office hours, you could also try to contact the landlord, and/or managing agent for the property. If the property is a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO), the licensee is bound by law to try to ensure the occupants don’t disturb neighbours. This should include excessive daytime disturbance.
You can find names and contact details for landlords and managing agents of HMOs using the council's Pinpoint map. See my Resources page for details.
(If you live next to an HMO, the licensee is legally required to give you his contact details, and should already have done so.)
Step 5: Council non-option
Bristol City Council says it doesn’t respond to “noise that’s happening now” or “one-off events” (Source.) It will only get involved if you’ve complained about the property previously and been assigned a case officer and a contact number. (If you wish to initiate a new complaint, you must fill in a 14-day noise diary showing repeated disturbance from this property—see the link above and my Frequent Disturbance page.)
Step 6: Contact police
This leaves the police. During daytime hours or in the evening, you might get a response from the local neighbourhood beat officers. In the late evening, you may alternatively be able to contact Operation Beech. See details below.
Does the event justify involving the police? If it’s relatively minor, sending a complaint to the university and landlord when business hours resume may be more appropriate. In that case, go to this link.
If you decide to contact the police, these are the options:
Text Operation Beech. This is funded by the University of Bristol and provides officers tasked to deal specifically with student noise—but it only operates at certain times and locations. (Click here for details.)
If Beech isn’t available, phone the police on 101. The call handler may say police don’t deal with noise incidents, or that it’s the council’s responsibility. In fact, they do sometimes turn out to noisy parties. The police have powers to deal with anti-social behaviour, which includes noise. (See article.) Plus, they can deal with public disorder in the streets, so if people are spilling onto the pavement or roadway, drinking, vomiting, urinating, shouting or being unruly, you should report this at the top of your call, rather than just say “I want to report a noisy party”.
Step 7: Contacting Me
Step 8: Afterwards
Even if you made contact with the university or landlord, you may still wish to submit a complaint after the event, whether to register the trouble you were forced to go to, or, especially, if disturbance continued despite their involvement—go to this link.
Version: September 2019
This page presents my advice. Users must make their own judgment. If you complain in person to people creating noise, try to remain calm and business-like, and avoid inflammatory words or action.