Guide to community living
Moving out of University accommodation and into your first shared house or flat is an exciting time. Along with more independence you will gain other responsibilities, not just for paying the rent and bills, but also towards the people living around you.
Whilst the vast majority of students and non-student residents live in harmony, lifestyle differences can cause distress and conflict. Things that may not seem important to you can be a major source of irritation and upset to non-student residents. The most common complaints about students received by the University involve:
- excessive noise (day or night),
- anti-social behaviour,
- inconsiderate parking,
- rubbish not put out on collection day or bins left out permanently that obstruct access.
The University is committed to responding to concerns in the community about student behaviour and aims to encourage high standards of conduct. Student rules and regulations include a disciplinary procedure for student misconduct in the community.
How to be a good neighbour
Introduce yourselves to your neighbours. Find out if they have young children who need to go to bed early or if they are elderly. Do they work? Ask about rubbish and recycling collections. If you are on friendly terms it will be easier for you to appreciate any concerns they may have and they will be more likely to approach you rather than the police or council if they have a problem.
Make yourself at home
This will be your home for at least the next year, so make an effort to become part of the community. This way you’ll get a chance to escape the student bubble and to make friends with a much wider range of people.
Consider joining your local residents association. If there is a neighbourhood watch, join in; students are prime targets for burglaries so it makes sense to do everything you can to protect yourself. The Avon and Somerset police website has more information about crime reduction and community safety. Follow the University Police team on Facebook for updates about current issues on and off campus.
Look for opportunities to make a positive contribution to your area; volunteering opportunities are listed on the Student Community Action website. A high percentage of students stay in Bristol after graduation so your efforts may pay dividends in the future.
Many houses in Bristol are old with poor insulation so noise travels easily through floors and walls. What may not sound loud to you may disturb your neighbours. If you are chatting or entertaining late try to:
- avoid using rooms that adjoin neighbours’ bedrooms;
- position stereos, TVs and computers away from adjoining walls and keep the volume low;
- keep doors and windows closed to help prevent noise from travelling;
- avoid shouting, slamming doors or running up and down stairs.
Students often have no idea that they have been disturbing their neighbours. Give your neighbours your contact details when you move in and ask them to let you know if they have any problems.
Noise at night
The most frequent complaints to the University involve:
- noise made by students going out/ coming home – talking loudly, shouting, chanting/singing, banging doors;
- loud music or noisy computer games with windows open allowing sound to travel;
- late night gatherings in gardens which disturb neighbours trying to sleep;
- noisy parties, very loud music, guests shouting and screaming in the street or in gardens.
Please remember that you are living in a residential area where people need to get up early for work or school. Noise travels a long way at night and residents become very distressed about being disturbed by inconsiderate behaviour. Please try to keep noise to a minimum, especially between the hours of 11 pm and 8 am.
If you intend to hold a party you will need to manage it so that no disturbance is caused to those living around you. Many parties result in complaints to the University, the Police and to the City Council. To minimise the chances of this:
- Give plenty of advance notice with your contact details to your neighbours. Let them know what (reasonable) time you expect the party to finish – and stick to this. An all-night party is not reasonable – if this is what you are planning, find a venue in town more suited to this.
- Don’t advertise your party on social networking sites; you could end up with far more guests that you can cope with.
- DJ decks, amplifiers or other extremely loud noise making equipment are not acceptable. The music should not be loud enough to be heard outside your property.
- Keep doors and windows closed to stop noise carrying.
- Ask guests to arrive/leave your property quietly and try to keep everyone inside as neighbours are often kept awake by partygoers screaming and shouting in gardens or on the street. If complaints are received about noisy guests, it will be you that will be held responsible.
- Avoid week-night parties.
- Respond politely to requests by neighbours to either end the party or turn the music down (and keep it down).
- Clear up any mess left outside your house the next morning.
Complaints about behaviour that damages the University’s relationship or reputation with the local community are taken very seriously.
All complaints are investigated and where unacceptable behaviour has been substantiated, sanctions/and or fines may be imposed under the rules and regulations for student behaviour in the community.
Residents may also complain to Bristol City Council. Pollution Control and Anti-Social Behaviour teams have powers to deal with noise or anti-social behaviour complaints. This includes Noise Abatement Notices (PDF, 117Kb), prosecution and Acceptable Behaviour Contracts.
Waste and recycling
Bristol City Council collects waste in order to maximise recycling. As much as 70% of your household waste can be recycled every week using the Council's recycling services.
Your household will have been provided with:
- a black box
- a green box
- a brown 25 litre kitchen waste bin and a 5 litre caddy
- a black wheelie bin
- a green garden bin (chargeable, optional) for disposal of garden waste. Findout more about garden waste collection service.
You can order missing containers or extra boxes for free by calling +44 (0)117 922 2100, or order on the Council's recycling website. If there are six or more residents in your property, you can order an additional wheelie bin if you have adequate off-street storage.
What goes where and when
Keep the caddy indoors lined with newspaper or compostable liners and empty it into the kitchen bin when full. The lid of the kitchen bin must be locked for collection – push the handle forward to lock the lid down.
Wheelie bins – only use for non-recyclable stuff
Bristol has a no side-waste policy. Bags or bulky items left next to the bin or piled on top will not be collected. Avoid piles of black bags by recycling more.
Put your bin out by 7 am on collection day and always bring it back onto your property the same day after it’s been emptied. As well as blocking the pavement for pedestrians, leaving your bin in the street is also a prosecutable offence.
No storage for a wheelie bin?
Where there is no off street storage for a wheelie bin a maximum of 3 bags per property may be put out for collection – any more will get left behind.
Flytipping - did you know…
As little as two bags left out on the street on non-collection days is classed as fly-tipping for which you could be fined. Recycle as much as you can.
End of year clear-outs
There are complaints every year at the end of the summer term about mounds of rubbish being left out by students. Please start clearing out early and plan ahead to ensure that your rubbish is disposed of before you move out. Leaving lots of rubbish behind can result in complaints from the neighbours, deposit deductions and even fines from the Council.
If you find that you're left with more rubbish than can fit in your recycling boxes and wheelie bin, you must remove it yourselves (excess rubbish won't be collected). Do not leave it outside your property or in your garden; bags get ripped open by foxes and waste gets strewn everywhere. Either take it to a household waste recycling centre or arrange for a bulky waste collection from Bristol City Council. Up to 15 black bags count as three items. You can find other services through yellow pages or online.
The Big Give
If you have anything left at the end of the summer term which just won’t fit in your car to take home, the Big Give is here to help! It couldn’t be simpler to donate your unwanted clothes, duvets, pots, pans, crockery, tins of food, rugs, golf clubs, small items of furniture or almost anything else you might have.
The University urges you not to bring a car to Bristol unless it is essential. Bristol is a heavily congested city and on-street parking near the University is limited and expensive (nearby streets have parking meters).
In residential areas close to the University most kerb-side space is taken up by local residents and people who work nearby. Student cars parked in the road and rarely moved all term are a source of frustration to residents who can't find a parking space near their home and need to use their cars every day. The Council have introduced residents permit parking schemes in some areas close to the University, which may restrict your access to parking. Check before bringing a car to Bristol.
It will cost you a lot less to use public transport and occasional taxis than to run a car. The University's central location means it is well-served with buses. It's also healthier, greener and cleaner (and quite possibly quicker) to walk or cycle. Walking and cycling routes are available at www.walkit.com.
Only need a car occasionally?
The University of Bristol has formed a partnership with Zipcar and developed a specific car club scheme for University staff and students. The car club provides a real and much cheaper alternative to car ownership and is widely used in several UK cities.