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Repeat disturbances

Where you’re being disturbed repeatedly by the same household.


These notes present my advice. Users must make their own judgments and consider their own safety. If you complain in person to people creating noise, try to remain calm and business-like, and avoid inflammatory words or action.


If the noise you’re dealing with is coming from an address that has created problems before (assuming it’s the same set of tenants), you have more options—though not, unfortunately, at the time it’s actually happening. (Again, Operation Beech is probably the only viable real-time response.) Complaining to the university and the landlord/agent, probably in that order, will usually get the quickest results, but this is one situation where you can also submit a noise complaint to the council.



Step 1: Make notes

As soon as it becomes apparent you might have a problem, starting keeping a record of the dates, times and nature of the disturbance.



Step 2: Speak to the students

It may pay to speak to the students directly if you feel safe to do so. Second-years, in particular, are often over-excited and usually have no idea how much their noise impacts you. (Bristol's Victorian houses have thick walls, but sound travels remarkably easily between adjoining properties and particularly between floors in converted flats.) The types of noise that can cause problems cover quite a spectrum, from slamming doors to loud music, and washing machines on spin at 1am to people talking outside late at night, so be prepared to have a fairly detailed discussion and try to do it calmly. You may already know they are students and which university they are with but it’s useful also to check exactly how many tenants there are, and who the landlord or agent is. (See How to Complain.)


Remind the students they are subject to their university's conduct policy, even though they are in private property. (See the links in UoB rules.) Their tenancy agreement may also have relevant provisions—ask the landlord or agent.



Step 3: Getting help

At the time noise is happening, the steps are as previously stated. See Night-time noise.



Step 4: Complain

Complaining to the university and landlord/agent is the same as previously stated, and they might act fastest, but you should consider complaining to the council as well. It may take longer, but if other steps don’t cure the problem, you might be glad you put it in motion. (It can always be suspended if the problem is resolved by other means). Here’s how it works:


  1. Go to the council's noise complaints page (https://www.bristol.gov.uk/residents/pests-pollution-noise-and-food/noise-complaints) and click the blue button, "Report a noise problem online >"

  2. You are asked to fill in a 14-day noise diary. You can't proceed until you do. (Hence you can’t complain about a single event—or if you do, it presumably will be ignored.)

  3. The diary is a Microsoft Word file. It’s essentially a table for you to fill in. It will display correctly on a laptop using MS Word or Google Docs but not an iPhone or iPad. If necessary, phone Neighbourhood Enforcement on 0117 922 2500 option 3 to ask for help, or email them at neighbourhood.enforcement@bristol.gov.uk. They can probably email you a copy of the document—or even post a hard copy to you. (Or try a public library?)

  4. You are asked to record "how and when noise disturbs you over the next 14 days”. However, if you have already recorded several disturbance recently, you can enter the details. Save the file to your device.

  5. When you're done (possibly 14 days later), go back to 1 above and, after answering the preliminary questions again, upload your completed file. (If they sent it to you by email, or by post, you will possibly return it the same way.)

Your submission will be reviewed by an officer with the council’s Neighbourhood Enforcement Team (NET). In due course you will hear if the complaint has been accepted for investigation, and you will be assigned a case officer. You may also be given an out-of-hours contact number to use if there are repeated disturbances, so that an officer can witness the noise. However, officers do out-of-hours duties only occasionally, so it may be a while before one is available when needed. You might also be asked to download the Noise App, and given an NET link to which you can send recordings. If satisfied the noise is unreasonable, the council can serve legal notices on the perpetrators and confiscate equipment. Further breaches could end up in the magistrates’ court. (In some cases recently, the university itself has initiated the NET process where students have defied repeated warnings to reduce noise.)



September 2023

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