Respond to notice about a planned party
Summary: Sometimes you become aware of a party before it happens. Perhaps you saw preparations, received a note from your student neighbours, or they came in person. At the very least, ask the organisers some questions.
Don’t ignore the warning signs and hope for the best. Once a party gets going, it’s hard to stop. Many parties last until 4am or later and some attract 100 guests or more. So it's better to act now. I am happy to help: Email me (Andrew Waller) at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you received a party notice, please include a photograph if possible so I can see the full text. A special plea: If you plan to be away on the night in question, please pass details to a neighbour, so someone else has a chance to respond. Read on:
Step 1: Questions to Ask
If you got a note through the door: It's best to express your concerns directly to the people who sent the note, especially if it doesn't answer key questions mentioned below. If the prospect of a face-to-face conversation is daunting, maybe a neighbour can go with you. Failing that, contact me at the email above.
If they came in person: Sometimes one of the students (often the prospective 21st celebrant) knocks on your door. Don’t be so disarmed by this thoughtful act that you forget to ask the kinds of questions mentioned below. If you do realise after they've gone that you’re missing key information, don't be afraid to contact them again.
If you saw preparations: Typically these include windows being covered on the inside with mattresses or cushions (a futile attempt to keep sound within the building); party lights going up; drinks arriving; several large black boxes (amplifiers) being delivered, followed by a “sound check”. The last one typically happens a few hours before the party. Again, speak to the students face to face if you can.
Here are key questions to ask:
Will the party finish by 10pm (weekday) or midnight (Friday or Saturday)? Those are the University of Bristol guidelines. If you agree to different times, please tell the students you are speaking only for yourself—other neighbours may disagree.
How many people do they expect to attend? The university suggests no more than three guests per student tenant. So five tenants = 15 guests. Will they be hiring doormen, sound equipment or a DJ? A 'Yes' to any of these suggests a loud, large party that will last into the early hours.
Assume the event will be longer, bigger and louder than advertised and be sceptical of any promises to control behaviour. Party organisers often promise to keep things under control, but usually fail to do so.
I've summarised the main University of Bristol rules in a sheet you can take to discuss with the students, and give to them. Click here.
Step 2: Seek help
If, based on the answers you get, you’re worried about this planned party, you should contact any or all of the following as soon as possible. And if it's already Friday afternoon, you might have to act quickly to catch people before they leave their offices:
The community liaison manager may be able to contact the students and advise them to rethink their plans. He or she might also flag the event to the police and council. Contact details:
University of Bristol
Community Liaison Manager (0117 954 6640)
University of the West of England
Community Liaison Manager (0117 328 1222)
Landlord or managing agents
They probably are unaware of the party plan and won't be enthused about it; ask that they contact the students and tell them to change their plans. A clause in the tenancy agreement probably prohibits noise after 10pm or 11pm. 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. 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.)
Council noise officers
You may be able to skip this step if you emailed the university and they say in reply that they have contacted the council. Otherwise, you can try to contact Neighbourhood Enforcement yourself: phone 0117 922 2500 or email email@example.com. They may be able to take pre-emptive action in the form of an abatement notice, which acts a bit like an injunction. But you will need to contact them within office hours (up to 5pm on weekdays and 4-30pm on Fridays). Tell them which university the students are from. The team has an agreement with the universities to help them identify the students if necessary.
You could contact the police on 101 and ask to speak to a local beat officer. They might visit the property before the event and register the community’s concerns. They might also be grateful to have advance warning of something that could generate calls to the police when it happens.
Step 3: Contact me
I'm interested to monitor how the bodies above respond to advance warnings, so please also contact me (Andrew Waller) at firstname.lastname@example.org, either for help or advice or simply to alert me as to what's happening. (If you've had a notice about a planned party, please send me a photo so that I can see the text. I will not identify any students who may be named in it.)
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.