This blog contains some information from the environmental protection team at the council who were represented at the Hanover and Elm Grove Local Action Team meeting (HEGLAT) I went to recently, and also some info from the Sussex community liaison officer.
It’s a time of year when many people have new neighbours, and there are parties going on because it’s the beginning of the university term. That’s not to say that all problems with noise are due to students – there are plenty of lovely quiet student houses, and a fair number of noisy non-student households. However, some of the problems are with student houses not least because they are on a different schedule so can socialise later at night and on weekdays which can clash with families needing to get a night’s sleep before school or work.
The first thing to do is to talk to them (if you feel it’s safe to do this) to make sure they understand the problem and give them a chance to correct it. That seems fair enough and it may be that they are just a bit thoughtless and that does the trick. In the meantime, start making a note of dates and times. This is because the council will want a noise diary (see below).
If talking didn’t help, and you think it’s a student house, you can contact the following people:
- University of Sussex . Housing Team – Mark Woolford. 01273 678219. email firstname.lastname@example.org
- University of Brighton : Community Liaison Officer – Kevin Mannall 01273 643102. email@example.com, or Andrew Keefe A.W.B.Keeffe@brighton.ac.uk
- Also see: http://www.brighton.ac.uk/about-us/contact-us/community-liaison-team/index.aspx
- BIMM (Brighton Institute of Modern Music): Accommodation Officer – Jackie Phillips 07885 328411 firstname.lastname@example.org
They should be able to find out whether the household is occupied by their students, and should be prepared to intervene and talk to the students in liaison with the council.
Whether the neighbours are students or not, you can also go to the environmental protection team at the council. (EHL.email@example.com). There’s some info here about how to make a complaint. There is a noise patrol team from 10pm to 3am on Friday and Saturday nights. As pointed out at the LAT, in an ideal world this would be every night, since student parties can just as often be midweek as at the weekends.
Officers stress that noise nuisance is assessed by how much it affects quality of life, and isn’t based on a certain decibel level. They may ask you to fill in a noise diary for two weeks – so that’s something you could start doing straight away. They will also need to witness the noise, so some liaison with them is necessary.
The council has the power to serve a noise abatement notice to everyone in the house. If this is broken, they will end up with a criminal record. The council also has the power to impose a fine, and seize belongings to the value of the fine. More information in this leaflet. Ideally, it wouldn’t get to that stage and between the council and the university teams working together the problem can be resolved.
At the LAT meeting there were some comments about some areas starting to be seen as “student areas” where it’s implicitly okay to make a lot of noise. This is something that really needs to be avoided. I believe more can be done to give students the right impression immediately they arrive in the city (particularly for first year students who are living out, or living in halls that are adjacent to residential areas). If particular effort were put into noise patrols on the first few days of term, and if the beginning-of-year parties were pointedly brought to a close at a suitable time, with warnings about continuing the noise elsewhere, that might send the right message about the importance of being quiet at night.